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AMERICAN BIOGRAPHICAL SERIES
HELEN M. CAMPBELL
EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
New York Chicaco Sax Francisco
By EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
George Washington ..,,.. 7
Thomas Jefferson . . „ „ . . -53
James Madison . 89
Abraham Lincoln . . . , . , .123
General Grant . . . . . „ .159
Nearly three hundred years ago, in the year 1607, a ship
sailed from England laden with people who were to form a
settlement upon the lands of the London Land Company.
This ship was to anchor in Roanoke Sound, but was driven
by a terrible storm northward into Chesapeake Bay. Sail-
ing along; the southern shores of this magnificent body of
water, they at length reached the mouth of a broad, beauti-
ful river which in honor of their king they named the
James. After sailing about fifty miles up this river, they
came to a peninsula, whose green meadows and forest lay
fair and peaceful in the spring sunshine.
Weary with their long sea voyage, the emigrants gladly
landed, and here, upon the banks of the James River, was
established the first English settlement in North America.
From England to this settlement, fifty years later, came
John Washington, and purchased a large tract of land
about seventy-five miles north of Jamestown, on the
Potomac River, in the County of Westmoreland. This
land remained in the Washington famil}*, and on February
22nd, 1732, in the old house built bv John Washington,
his great-grandson, George Washington, was born. He
8 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
was the eldest child of Augustine and Mary Washington,
though he had two half-brothers older than himself. These
half-brothers were named Lawrence and Augustine and
little George was very much attached to them. He also
had three brothers and two sisters younger than himself.
Not long after George was born, the old house was
burned down, and never rebuilt. It was in a quiet, lonely
neighborhood, and nothing remains to mark the spot where
once it stood, except a stone slab lying upon a bed of
bricks, remnants of the chimneys of the old house. The
slab is broken and overgrown with weeds and brambles,
but upon its rough surface can still be traced these words :
The 11th of February 1732 (old style)
By the new style, which added eleven days to the old
reckoning, the birthday became February 22nd, the day
we now observe. When the old house burned, Augustine
Washington removed his family to a place which he owned
upon the Rappahannock River, opposite Fredericksburg.
That house has been destroyed, but a picture of it remains
and shows an old-fashioned Virginia farm-house, divided
by a hall into four rooms, with great chimneys built outside
the house at each end.
George Washington. §
Perhaps you would like to know something about the
way people lived and what they did when George Wash-
ington was a boy. When the people of that day spoke of
Virginia, they meant that part of the State lying between
Chesapeake Bay and the Blue Ridge Mountains. They
did not know how far west or north the State extended.
A few Irish and German families from Pennsylvania had
settled along the rivers in the Shenandoah valle} r , but to
the people living in the eastern part of the state, they
seemed as far away as people of Colorado or Arizona
Beautiful rivers came from the Blue Ridge Mountains
and found their way through fertile valleys to the sea.
Chesapeake Bay, with the great rivers emptying into it,
afforded many good harbors. Grand old forests extended
on every side, and fish of all kinds swam in the waters.
But with all her magnificent waterways, her valuable tim-
ber, her extensive fishing-grounds, Virginia had no ship-
building, no fisheries, no lumber-camps, no thriving
industries and busy manufactories, no great cities, and
but few villages. Each county had its county-seat where
were built the court house, the jail, a hotel or inn, as
it was then called, built for the entertainment of the people
when court was in session ; and sometimes a church and
■ If you look on a map of Virginia today, you will see in
10 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
many places the letters C. H. following a word, as Spott-
sylvania C. H., Fairfax C. H., meaning that in that place
stands the Court House of that County, and this is the
only name given to the little village. Yet at that time
Virginia had the greatest number of inhabitants and was
the wealthiest British Colony in America.
Now what were the people doing and how did they
make their wealth? They were living upon large farms,
or plantations, and raising tobacco ; for there was a greater
demand for tobacco in England, and it brought more
money than anything else the farmer could raise.
Therefore every man raised all the tobacco he possibly
could. Land was cheap, soil fertile, climate warm, and
the tobacco plant itself a native of American soil. Thus
it was the natural product of the State.
So the farmers cleared large tracts of land, built zig-zag
rail fences around them, and set out great fields of tobacco
Now, it requires a great deal of labor to cultivate
tobacco successfully. The ground must lie kept mellow
and free from weeds, the imperfect leaves removed, and
the tobacco worms destroyed. There were no Avheel cul-
tivators and shovel plows such as we use now. A hoe in
the hands of a man or boy was the only way of destroying
weeds and loosening the soil, and with such implements it
required a great many hands to cultivate a large planta-
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 11
tiou. This need of workers caused the introduction of
Slavery into the British Colonies.
Augustine Washington had large plantations and many
negro slaves to work them. So George was not obliged to
split wood, drive cows to pasture, feed pigs and chickens,
and hoe in the garden, as most farmers' sons must do.
Still he was not an idle boy, for there are always a great
many things for boys to do.
It was a very pleasant place where he lived. There
were beautiful trees and gardens around the house, and
wide verandas upon each side of it. Not far from the
house were the cabins for the negroes and the great
tobacco sheds, where the tobacco was hung from poles to
dry in the warm air and sunshine. Farther back were
barns, granaries, and storehouses, for there were many
people to be fed and nearly everything was raised on the
farm. The only place where they could buy food, clothing,
shoes or medicine, was in England, and it took a long
time for sailing vessels to make the voyage there and
Then there were the smoke-houses where bacon and
dried beef were kept, and the spring-house, built over a
running brook, where the milk, butter and eggs were
kept in buckets standing in the clear, cold water.
The kitchen was a small building separate from the
house, and here the Aunt Chloes and Dinahs cooked all
12 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
the food and carried it to the dining room in the great
There was plenty of game in the forests ; deer, bears,
wild turkeys, and sometimes a wild-cat. The rivers were
full offish, there were fine oysters in the Bay, and canvas-
back ducks in their season. The great stables were filled
with fine horses, for there were few wagon-roads, and
most of the travelling was on horseback or by boat.
There were plenty of interesting things to keep a boy
busy ; and George Washington learned when still young
to shoot well, to be a good boatman, and a fearless rider.
While quite small, he learned to read, write, and cipher
at a small school kept by the church sexton.
One of his school-mates, and his favorite play-mate, was
Richard Henry Lee, afterwards a famous Virginian. The
two boys were friends after they grew up and often wrote
letters to each other upon business matters or affairs of
Here are their first letters, written when they were nine
" Richard Henry Lee to George Washington :
" Pa brought me two pretty books full of pictures
he got them in Alexandra they have pictures of dogs cats
tigers and elefants and ever so many pretty things cousin
bids me send you one of them it has a picture of an elefant
and a little Indian boy on his back like uncle jo's sam pa
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 13
says if I learn my tasks well he will let uncle jo bring me
to see you will you ask your ma to let you come to see
Richard Henry Lee."
" George Washington to Richard Henry Lee :
I thank you very much for the picture book
you gave me. Sam asked me to show him the pictures
and I showed him all the pictures in it ; and I read to him
how the tame elephant took care of the master's little boy,
and put him on his back and would not let any one hurt
his master's little son. I can read three or four pages
sometimes without missing a word. Ma says I may go to
see you and stay all day with you next week if it be not
rainy. She says I may ride my pony Hero, if Uncle Ben
will go with me and lead Hero. I have a little piece of
poetry about the picture book you gave me, but I mus'nt
tell you whp wrote the poetry.
G. W.'s compliments to R. H. L.,
And likes his book full well,
Henceforth will count him his friend,
And hopes many happy days he may spend.
Your good friend,
"I am going to get a whip top soon, and you may see
it and whip it." *
Little Dicky's letter isn't as well written as the answer,
* Lossing's " Home of Washington."
14 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
but perhaps George's mother told him how to spell the
hard words, and about the capitals.
When George Washington was eleven years old, his
father died and he was left to the care of his mother and
half brothers. Mary Washington was a woman of strong-
character. After her husband died, she managed her
family and great estates as well as he could have done.
She rode over her farms in an old-fashioned chaise, visit-
ing every part and seeing that no work was neglected.
From her George Washington inherited the govern-
ing spirit, which later in life enabled him to control armies
and to wisely direct the nation. She taught him to be
very orderly, and above everything else to be truthful.
Here is a story told of him when a boy which shows
how truthful he was and how much his mother valued
Upon the estate were many fine horses of which his
mother was very proud. There were several young horses
and one, a beautiful sorrel, was very high spirited. No
one could ride or control it. George was determined to
ride this colt, and told the other boys, if they would help
him catch it, he would tame it.
Very early one morning they went out to the pasture,
and driving the colt into a fence corner, managed to get
the bit into its mouth. Washington sprang upon its back,
told the boys to let go the bridle, and away went colt and
GEORGE WASHINGTON. ]/-,
rider. Round and round the field it ran, Washington
determined to quiet and control it, and the colt equally
determined not to obey. It backed, reared, and plunged,
frightening the boys who began to wish they had not
helped in the matter. Washington fearlessly kept his seat
and his mastery of the colt. Again and again it reared
and plunged, but still the strong hand on the bridal rein
turned it round against its will. At last, as if determined
to end the struggle at once, the colt sprang high into the
air. That was its last bound. A blood-vessel was broken,
and the beautiful, spirited animal fell to the ground, dead.
Just then the breakfast bell rang and the boys went
slowly toward the house, dreading to meet the mother.
"Well, young gentlemen," said she, as they sat down to
the breakfast table, "Have you seen my colts this morning
in your walk? I hope they are well cared for. They tell
me my favorite sorrel is as large as his sire."
The boys looked at one another, but no one answered.
Surprised at their silence their mother repeated her ques-
tion. Then George spoke. "The sorrel is dead, Madam,"
he said. "I killed him." And then he told her the whole
For a moment her face Hushed with anger at her son's
disobedience, and with sorrow at the loss of her colt ; and
she could not speak. But at last, with strong self-control,
she overcame the anger she felt and answered calmly,
16 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
" It, is well ; for while I greatly regret the loss of my
favorite colt, I rejoice in my son who always speaks the
When a boy becomes a great man and well known,
then every one likes to hear of the days before he was
famous, and trace some likeness between the character of
the boy and that of the great man. Thus the play-mates
of "Washington, grown old and gray, loved to tell of the
days when he and they were boys together and the wonder-
ful things he could do. There is a spot shown, beside the
Rappahannock River, where he once stood and threw a
stone to the opposite bank ; and visitors to the Natural
Bridge in Virginia are always told how George Washing-
ton threw a stone the whole height of the bridge, over two
He was a tall, powerful young fellow, with very large
strong hands, and took the lead in the favorite games of
his day, pitching heavy bars, tossing quoits, running, leap-
ins;, wrestling;, riding, swimming; and hunting. A strong,
free life, most of the time in the open air, was, no doubt,
the best training for the place he was soon called to fill.
When Augustine Washington died, he left to each child
an estate. To Lawrence AVashington was given the old
homestead at Hunting Creek, and to voung Augustine an
estate at Bridges Creek. A good school was kept at
Bridges Creek, and when George was twelve years old he
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 17
was sent to live with his brother Augustine to attend this
Here he remained until he was sixteen, often making
visits to his mother at Fredericksburg, and to his brother
Lawrence at Hunting Creek.
A few miles from Hunting Creek was the estate of Bel-
voir, owned by William Fairfax, whose pretty daughter,
Annie, became the wife of Lawrence Washington and
went to live at the old homestead of Hunting Creek which,
soon after their marriage, they re-named Mount Vernon.
Annie Washington had a brother, George William Fairfax,
about six years older than George Washington, and the
two Georges soon became great friends and comrades in all
the sports of that time.
The books that George Washington studied at school
have been carefully kept, and it is very interesting to look
over the pages of his writing books, the books in which he
copied long law papers, deeds, leases, wills, and all those
legal papers which we now employ lawyers to draw up for
us. In those days there were few lawyers, and every
gentleman was expected to know how to draw up correctly
all legal documents relating to his estates.
He also learned to make out bills, and to keep accounts
accurately, and in one of his blank books he copied one
hundred and ten "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in
Company and Conversation/'
18 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Would you like to read some of them ?
" Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always
submit your judgment to others with modesty.
" Every action in company ought to be with some sign
of respect to those present.
"Think before you speak: pronounce not imperfectly,
nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and
" Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.
" Make no show of taking delight in your victuals ; feed
not with greediness ; cut your bread with a knife ; lean not
on the table, neither find fault with what you eat.
"Let your recreations be manful not sinful."
These are very wise rules, but it would be rather diffi-
cult for most boys of sixteen to remember one hundred and
ten of them. Perhaps George Washington did not always
remember them, but they show us what kind of a boy he
wished and tried to be ; for the best of rules could not
make a noble, upright man without a resolute manly
spirit to carry them out.
Although so large and strong, Washington was always
gentle, fair-minded, and generous with other boys ; and
the boy who tried so hard to control the sorrel colt, also
tried to control something more unmanageable still, his
own quick temper.
There was a great deal of talk about war and fighting
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 19
with the Indians, and the boys at school played soldier
with Washington for commander, and he delighted in drill-
ing his little army of school-mates.
When he was about fifteen he was very anxious to leave
school and enter the service of King George as midship-
man in the English Navy. His brother Lawrence obtained
a midshipman's warrant for him, and he was about to go
on board a man-of-war, when his mother refused to con-
sent to it, and he gave up the plan and returned to school
for another year.
At that time there was a great deal of land in Virginia
which had never been surveyed. Few planters knew just
how far their estates extended or where the boundaries lay.
Washington resolved to study surveying, for it would be
five or six years before he would be of age and could come
into possession of his estate, and surveying would be work
out of doors, which he loved ; best also he could earn money
for himself. So he studied Geometry and Trigonometry,
surveyed all the fields around the school-house and his
brothers' lands, drawing maps and setting boundaries with
He still made frequent visits to his brother at Mount
Vernon and to his friend, George Fairfax, at Belvoir. He
had another friend at Belvoir, a strange friend, perhaps,
for a boy of sixteen — this was Lord Fairfax, a cousin of
William Fairfax, and a man sixty years old. He had once
20 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
been a gay young man, a favorite in the fashionable society
of London ; but much of his property was lost, the young
lady he was to marry chose a wealthier husband, and
unhappy memories at last drove him from England to
America, where he had inherited a great estate, comprising
nearly one-fifth of the present State of Virginia.
He cared little now for gay society, but liked best the
wild, out-door life of a hunter, and it was not strange that
he and the shy, bashful boy of sixteen should become
great friends. Together they hunted through the great
mountain forests, and sitting beside their camp tire in the
dark still nights, the quiet boy and his gray -haired old
friend had many long talks together. Perhaps the old
man told his boy-friend of his lonely life, his many dis-
appointed hopes, and in turn listened to Washington's
boyish ambitions, his longing for a broader life than that
of a Virginia planter.
Learning of his young friend's wish to be a surve} 7 or,
and having miles of unexplored land west of the Blue
Ridge Mountains, Lord Fairfax commissioned Washington
to survey them for him, and in March of 1748, the lad,
then just a month past sixteen, started with George Fair-
fax to survey the land beyond the Blue Ridge.
Through Ashby's gap into the Shenandoah valley they
rode, building great fires wherever night found them, and
after cooking their suppers, wrapped their blankets around
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 21
them and slept with only the stars above them. Some-
times wild storms came up, put out their fires, and left
them cold, wet, and hungry. They swam their horses
across swift streams, swollen to torrents by the spring rains.
They shot deer and wild turkeys, roasting them beside
their camp-fire and, sitting on a fallen log, ate with their
hunting knives, using chips for plates.
Once they camped with a band of Indians and saw them
have a grand war-dance, and sometimes thev shared the
rude cabin of the German settlers ; but more often they
made their own camp in the lonely forest. It was a strange
experience for the young Virginian, accustomed to a com-
fortable home and the life of a gentleman ; but he was
earning his own living and gaining health and strength and
much useful knowledge beside. He was paid in proportion
to the amount of his work, and some days he earned as
many as twent} r dollars.
This commission from Lord Fairfax was the beginning
of Washington's public life. His work was so well done
that the Governor of Virginia appointed him public sur-
veyor ; that is, a surveyor whose work is recorded in the
Clerk's office of the County, and also makes legal bound-
aries for all land bought and sold. Such surveyors must
be very accurate, for should the surveyor make mistakes,
people who bought the lands would always be having
quarrels and law suits over the boundary lines. But years
22 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
and years after Washington worked at surveying, a law-
yer who had to look up a great many land titles said that
the only surveys he could depend on were those made by
the young Virginian, George Washington.
For three years he worked at this business, except during
the winter months, spending most of the time among the
Indians and backwoodsmen of Western Virginia. People
who saw him at this time said he looked very much like an
Indian himself, so tall and straight, so grave and silent,
and wearing the buck-skin suit of the backwoods settler.
His out door life, his daily labor among such wild, rough
companions, made him strong and self-reliant far beyond
his years. Few would have believed the tall, strong,
silent surveyor, his face bronzed like an Indian's by the
southern suns, to be a young man of only nineteen, but by
such severe training he was being prepared for the work of
Whether surveying among the backwoodsmen or visit-
ing at his brother's beautiful home, Mount Vernon, Wash-
ington was sure to hear a great deal of talk about the
country farther west, especially the Ohio valley. The
English had their colonies along the Atlantic Coast, the
French had theirs along the St. Lawrence River, the
Great Lakes, and through the Mississippi valley. The
French built forts and trading posts, the English cleared
away the forests and made farms. For a long time the
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 23
mountains separated them, but year after year the English
crossed the mountains and settled in the fertile valleys
The Indians, roaming over the whole country, found
themselves between the two nations, and soon their hunt-
ing- ground would be gone. The different tribes were
always at war with one another, and therefore were glad
of the white man's rifle to help them. So some of the
Indians sided with the French and some with the English,
while others were friendly now to the one nation and now
to the other.
The French began building forts in the Ohio valley,
and the English formed the Ohio Land Company and
started settlements in the same valley. Lawrence and
Augustine Washington were members of the Ohio Land
Company and invested money in . the new settlements.
Soon there were rumors of war between the two nations
and the English Colonies prepared to defend their settlers
on the frontier.
At that time Virginia extended from Chesapeake Bay
to Lake Erie and as far west as they chose to claim, for
no western boundary existed. When Virginia prepared
for war George Washington, then but nineteen years old,
was made Adjutant General of the district which included
Mount Vernon : and he immediately began studying mili-
tary tactics, learning how to drill men and how to handle
24 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
bodies of soldiers in battle. He also took lessons from an
old Dutch soldier in sword exercises.
But in the midst of these preparations, Lawrence Wash-
ington was taken ill, and his physicians ordered him to
the West Indies to spend the winter, hoping the warm
climate might restore him to health. George Washington
now laid aside all other interests to accompany his invalid
brother, and in September, 1751, they sailed for the West
Washington greatly enjoyed his visit, although while
there he had smallpox, the scars of which he carried during
the remainder of his life. He thought the people of the
West Indies very shiftless and extravagant ; he said they
would not work and were always in debt.
Washington was a very prudent, economical young man.
He had little money except what he earned, and it was one
of his rules never to spend money until he had earned it :
and he held to this rule all his life. Because he was so
careful and correct in money matters many people called
him mean and close ; but he cared nothing about that. He
preferred to be economical and scrupulously honest.
The climate of the West Indies did not improve the
health of Lawrence Washington, and as he grew r weaker he
wished to see his wife and daughter again. So he sent his
brother George back to Virginia to bring them to him, but
before they had time to start he grew so much worse that
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 25
he started for home himself, and arrived in July, 1752, at
Mount Vernon, where he died very soon after, having lived
just long enough to see once more the wife and daughter
he loved so well. Lawrence Washington appointed George
one of the executors of his will and made him heir to
his estates, should his daughter die before she came
The management of his brother's estates was left to
George Washington by the other executors, and from that
time Mount Vernon became his home.
Now came stormy days for the young man. The trouble
between France and England increased. The French
marched into the Ohio valley and commenced building
forts. The Governor of Virginia decided to send a
commissioner to inquire why they were building forts on
English territory and what they intended to do. It would
be no easy task for the commissioner. He must know the
country well and be able to deal with the Indians. It
would be a hard, rough journey, and the man who under-
took it must be strong, brave and wise. For this position
George Washington was chosen. He was a thorough back-
woodsman, and could follow a trail through the dense
forests as well as the Indians. They all knew and re-
spected him, for he was a level-headed, quick-witted young
fellow whom every one trusted. Thus it happened that in
October, 1752, Major George Washington, twenty-one
WASHINGTON FALLS INTO THE ALLEGHANY RIVER
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 27
years old, started on his perilous journey of over one
His company consisted of an interpreter and five hardy
frontiersmen. Slowly they journeyed on, now over the
lofty mountain ranges through storms of snow and rain,
now through muddy swamps and dense forests, swimming
their horses across the swollen streams. Often cold, wet
and hungry, but never discouraged, they kept bravely on
through mud and snow drifts and swollen rivers, until they
reached Fort-le-Bouf. Here the French commander re-
ceived them politely, read the Governor's letter, drew up a
very formal reply, and Major Washington and his men
started toward home.
Now came a terrible journey. The horses were weak
and nearly worn out, the weather grew colder and colder
and the roads harder to travel. At last Washington
decided to take one man with him — leaving the others to
follow along with the horses — and take a shorter road
which could be travelled only on foot. On the day after
Christmas, dressed as an Indian and with his letters and
papers strapped in a pack on his back, his gun in his hand,
he started for the Ohio River.
They expected to find the river frozen over but when
they reached it, it was filled with floating masses of ice,
whirled swiftly along by the swollen current. With one
small hatchet they worked all day constructing a raft, and
28 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
just at sunset started to cross the river, but were soon
jammed in the floating blocks of ice and could neither go
backward nor forward. Once Washington was jerked from
the raft into the icy river, but managed to climb back, wet
and chilled, to its frail support. At last the raft drifted
against a small island, and here they remained through the
night which grew very cold, and Washington's companion
had his fingers and some of his toes frozen.
In the morning they found the river frozen solid and
crossed easily on the ice. After many days of weary
travel, they reached Williamsburg and reported to the
Governor there. Thus Washington proved to his friends
how fearless he was in the midst of danger, how undaunted
by the greatest difficulties.
The Governor now sent men to build a fort at the junc-
tion of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers, and several
weeks later an English colonel with one hundred and fifty
soldiers followed them. Washington accompanied him as
second in command, but before reaching the place they met
the men returning, having been driven from the spot by a
large body of French troops who were now building a fort
for themselves in the same place. This fort they called
Fort Duquesne ; and on that spot the city of Pittsburg now
The English colonel was much disappointed, but Wash-
ington did not hesitate. Sending back word to the Gov-
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 29
ernor and urging him to send on more troops, he began
building a road as he went and at last, reaching a level piece
of land at the foot of the Alleghany Mountains, called Great
Meadows, he began building a fort. Soon a friendly
Indian brought him word that the French were coming to
drive him out; but guided by the Indian, with forty
soldiers he marched through the forest at night and at sun-
rise attacked the French, thus firing the first shot in the
seven years' war between France and England. Scatter-
ing the French troops and taking over twenty prisoners,
he marched quickly back to Great Meadows.
But the French at Fort Duquesne soon heard of this and
a large body of troops marched to attack him. Washing-
ton strengthened his fort as much as possible, but the
French force was far superior to his, and after nine hours
of severe fighting, he was obliged to surrender. He was
allowed to return home with his men after promising to
build no more forts west of the mountains for one year.
With a heavy heart the young colonel marched his men
homeward. It was his first defeat, and he was but twenty-
two years old. But defeat is sometimes as necessary as
success in developing the greatness of a man's character,
and he had learned something of the art of war. He knew
what it meant to be a soldier ; he had heard the whistling
of bullets around his head and had learned to lead men in
battle. Twenty-one years from the day he marched away
30 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
from Great Meadows he drew his sword at the head of the
The Governor now wished him to organize a larger com-
pany and again attack Fort Duqnesne, but experience had
taught Washington that it was useless to start at the begin-
ning of winter with soldiers who had neither clothes,
ammunition nor blankets fit for such an expedition. He
urged the Governor to prepare his soldiers, and start in
the spring; but there were many others, jealous of the
young commander, who advised differently, and at last, tired
of trying to make an army with nothing to make it of,
Washington resigned his commission in disgust.
But now England saw the needs and dangers of her
colonies, and in February, 1775, sent Major-General
Edward Braddock with two regiments of soldiers from
England, with authority to command all the soldiers
of the colonies. Here was something grand! The King's
soldiers, splendidly dressed and well drilled, under a vet-
eran general, were something very different from bodies of
ragged frontiersmen under captains who knew nothing
of war. Washington longed to be one of them, for here
was a chance to learn the real art of war. But he held no
commission now and had no company to offer. However,
General Braddock soon heard of the young Virginia colonel
who had so bravely tried to drive the French from His
Majesty's dominions, and he offered Washington a position
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 31
as aid-de-camp on his military staff, which was gladly
accepted, and early in May he joined General Braddock
and the campaign began.
Braddock had little patience with the ragged, undrilled
soldiers of the Colonies, and Washington was learning a
good many things about soldiers. He saw that the English
regiments, with their tine uniforms and military training,
were no braver men than the slouchy looking Virginians.
Besides they knew nothing of Indian Warfare, nor of
marching over rough mountains and through dense forests.
Slowly, and with all the parade of an old world army,
making roads and building bridges as he passed, General
Braddock marched along. Washington was sick with
fever and unable to sit up much of the time, but he saw
plainly that Braddock did not understand border warfare.
On the 9th of July, though weak from the fever, Wash-
ington mounted his horse and joined General Braddock.
The army was about to ford the Monongahela River and
marched down the bank, with bands playing and colors
floating on the warm July air. Braddock thought the
sight of his gallant army would strike dismay and terror
to the hearts of the French and Indians. In after years
Washington said it was the most beautiful sight he had
ever witnessed. The soldiers marched in regular order,
the sun shining brightly on their burnished arms, the river
flowing deep and tranquil on their right, the solemn gran-
;,2 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
deur of the over-shadowing forests on their left. But the
beauty of the scene did not blind Washington's eyes to the
fatal blunder they were making. He pointed out the
danger of an ambush and urged General Braddoek to send
a scouting party in advance. But Braddoek flew into a
passion at once: "High times, high times, indeed!" he
exclaimed, " when a Colonel Buckskin would teach a
British General how to fight."
On marched the army through dense underbrush, over
hills and into hollows, when suddenly a man appeared in
their path, waved his hand and disappeared. In an
instant a shower of bullets and arrows fell around them
and the battle began. The British soldiers formed in a
solid square and fired volley after volley into the woods,
but could see no foe. From every direction came bullets
and arrows, and half their number lay dead ; then in terror
they turned and fled. Slipping behind trees and rocks,
the despised Virginians held back the enemy and protected
the retreat of the British. Five horses fell under General
Braddoek, and at last he was fatally wounded. Washing-
ton was everywhere, his tall figure towering above the
rest. Two horses were shot under him and four bullets
pierced his coat, but he seemed to bear a charmed life as
he rode back and forth, the only officer not w r ounded of all
Slowly and sadly the remnant of that gay, proud little
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 83
army retreated, carrying their dying General with them ;
and on the fourth day of the retreat he died and was
buried by the roadside. Washington read the burial
service over the grave, for all the chaplains were dead or
wounded. So the great expedition of General Braddock
ended in gloom and disaster.
The Virginians, greatly alarmed, now resolved to
increase their army at once, and George Washington was
appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Virginia.
He was now twenty-three years old, and the next three
years were, perhaps, the most trying ones of his eventful
life. He had seen the order and discipline of English
troops and wished to organize his army on the same plan.
But the free, independent backwoodsmen did not take
kindly to military discipline, and were so poorly paid they
could scarcely supply themselves with shoes, stockings,
Washington was expected to defend the western frontier
against the French and Indians who were daily growing
bolder. Without men or money this was an impossible
task. Often he was tempted to resign his command, but
the poor settlers on the frontier entreated him not to do so.
It was a hard school for the young commander, } r et the
lessons then learned served him well in later years. But
brighter days were coming.
Mr. Pitt, a famous English statesman, took charge of
34 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
England's affairs and at once began helping the colonies.
English soldiers were sent over, able men were placed in
command, Virginia raised two more regiments, and Wash-
ington still held command of the Virginians. Braddock
had refused to listen to him, but the new commander coun-
selled with him and often gave him the lead.
Late in the fall of 1758 the army again marched against
Fort Duquesne, the Virginia soldiers under Washington in
advance. The French soon saw that this was a different
expedition, and after burning Fort Duquesne, left the Ohio
valley. The English found only a smoking ruin, but rais-
ing the English flag, they soon constructed a larger and
better fort, calling it Fort Pitt, and from that beginning
grew the beautiful city of Pittsburg, for many years called
the "Gateway of the West."
The French had left the valley, an army was no longer
needed, and Washington, resigning his commission, re-
turned to his home at Mount Vernon, which was now really
his — his brother Lawrence's daughter having died young —
and he once more took up the life of a Virginia planter.
Something else had occurred in his life which perhaps
made it easy for him to resign his command and retire to
the quiet life of a Virginia farmer. While travelling on
horseback through the state, he had stopped over night at
the house of a friend and there met a beautiful young
widow, Martha Custis. It was easy to make excuses for
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 35
calling often, and being as diligent in love as in war, in
a few weeks he won the lady's promise to be his wife as
soon as the war was over. This was in May, 1758. In
November the war closed, and on January 6th, 1759, they
Washington at once took his wife and her two little
children, six and four years old, to his home at Mount
Vernon. He was now a very wealthy man for that time.
He had large estates and many slaves belonging to him,
his wife and her children were wealthy, and he had the
care of it all. But these were the happiest days of his
life. They had no children born to them, but Washington
dearly loved his wife's two little ones and was nearly
heart-broken when the daughter died at the age of sixteen.
The Custis boy grew up and married ; but soon young-
Mr. Custis and his wife died leaving little children, and
Washington adopted these as his own.
From the day of his marriage until his death, Washing-
ton wore a small picture of his wife hung from his neck
by a gold chain. In all his letters to her he called her
"My Dear Patsy," and his domestic life was always happy
and peaceful. The next sixteen years of his life were quiet
and uneventful. Rising at four o'clock and breakfasting
at seven, he rode over his estates until dinner time,
superintending all the work and improvements. He was
a splendid horseman, and loved to break colts as well as
36 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
when he was a boy at home. Between dinner and tea
time he wrote letters and posted his books, for he kept a
strict book account of everything about his estate, his
horses, cattle, crops, slaves, everything bought or sold
was written down in its proper place.
Everything used upon the farm or in the house was
bought in England, and twice a .year he sent a list of
things to be purchased to his agent in London. All these
bills are preserved in his library. It is a wonder how
people managed to remember all their wants at one time.
All the plows, hoes, spades, medicines, groceries, furni-
ture, books, and clothing for so many people made a long
list ; there were all the slaves to be fed and clothed as well
as the family, and in making out those bills Washington
did not forget to order "Toys for Master Custis," and "A
fashionably dressed doll-baby for Miss Custis, four years
Washington was also fond of society, often entertain-
ing his friends at his beautiful home : and the grave, stately
Commander and his beautiful wife were welcome visitor
in the cities of Virginia and Maryland.
He was fond of hunting, especially fox hunting, and wat
always ready for a day's ride after the hounds. The
Potomac River afforded excellent fishing and duck-hunting,
and during the season he was out early and late shooting.
Thus the happy days, full of pleasant work and cheerful
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 37
recreation, passed swiftly by until 1765, when the British
Parliament passed the Stamp Act and roused the Colonies
to fieiy indignation. So strong was the feeling against
this Act that at last it was repealed, but England imposed
heavy duties on tea, paper, glass, and other articles, until
in December, 1773, occurred the famous Boston Tea Party,
followed by the seizure and fortification of Boston Neck
by the British. Massachusetts now called a convention
of the Colonies, and George Washington was one of the
delegates from Virginia, riding to Philadelphia in company
with Edmund Pendleton and the fiery, eloquent Patrick
Soon the news of Concord and Lexington roused every
one, and on May 10th the Continental Congress again met
and, after a few days" debate, elected George Washington
Commander-in-Chief of the American Army.
It was on the loth of June, 1775, that he was elected
and the next day he accepted the commission on condition
that he should receive no pay but bear his own expenses.
There was no time to lose, no time to return home and
bid good-by to wife and friends, and he knew not whether
he would ever see them again. But he wrote a long letter
to his "Dear Patsy," telling her of his appointment and
of how much rather he would remain at home with
her, but duty called, his country commanded, and he
must obey or seem a coward. I do not think Martha
WASHINGTON ELM, CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
• Under this tree Washington first took command of the American Army, July 3, 1775.'
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 39
Washington would have wished him to do otherwise ; she
must have been very proud of her brave soldier husband.
Washington started for Boston on June 21st, accom-
panied by a body of horsemen. When only a few miles
on the road they met a messenger bringing news of the
Battle of Bunker Hill. " Why did the Provincials retreat?"
the messenger was asked. "For want of ammunition,"
he replied. "Did they stand the lire of the British?"
Washington asked. "That they did, sir! And held their
own fire in reserve until the enemy were within eight
rods." "Then the liberty of the country is safe!" ex-
claimed Washington, for he remembered Braddock's splen-
did troops, and thought if a body of farmers could meet
such an attack, they would make brave soldiers.
All along the route people welcomed him, and on the
afternoon of July 2nd he rode into Cambridge where the
army was assembled, and on the morning of July 3rd,
1775, took command, and the seven long dreary years
of the Revolutionary War began.
You can read in history all the incidents of this war.
How the brave little Army of America fought against the
well-dressed, well-drilled British Regulars, sometimes win-
ning glorious victories and again suffering disastrous
defeats. How intrenchments were thrown up on Dor-
chester Heights in one night and the British compelled
to leave Boston. How in the dead of night Washington
40 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
withdrew his men from Long Island, crossing and reeross-
ing with muffled oars until all were away, and the British
marching in the next morning found the Island, but no
American soldiers ; then the perilous crossing of the
Delaware and the capture of the Hessians at Trenton; the
terrible winter at Valley Forse, those darkest days of
Washington's life, when his little, ragged, half-starved
army left the prints of their bare feet marked in blood
upon the frozen ground.
Then came the brave young French Marquis de La
Fayette, offering life and fortune to the cause of American
freedom ; and all the band of heroes who faithful to their
loved Commander, gave the best of their lives for freedom
and their native land. But, towering above them all upon
the pages of History as upon the battlefield, stands the
name of Washington. His undaunted courage, his hope-
fulness under seemingly hopeless conditions held together
and inspired the forlorn little army, when neglected and
blamed by Congress and the people. He triumphed alike
over foreign foe and treacherous friend.
At last came the Battle of Monmouth, when General
Charles Lee, jealous of Washington's greatness, disobeyed
orders and refused to attack the British. General La
Fayette urged him to attack at once. "You do not know
British soldiers," said Lee. " We cannot stand against
them. We shall certainly be driven back." ''We have
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 41
beaten British soldiers before, and can do it again,"
answered La Fayette. But General Lee ordered a retreat,
and in despair La Fayette sent a message to Washington
telling him to come at once. Away went Washington,
and soon he met a little tifer boy who called out : " They
are all coming this way, your honor ! " " Who are coming,
my little man?" asked Washington. "Why our boys,
your honor, our boys, and the British are right after
them." Away galloped Washington to the top of a hill,
where he saw his soldiers retreating. On he went, down
the hill, over the bridge, straight up to General Lee, the
soldiers cheering as he passed and turning back from their
retreat. Looking at General Lee with Hashing eyes, he
exclaimed, "What, sir, does this mean?" Frightened
and angry, Lee replied that the attack was against his
judgment. "You are a poltroon," exclaimed Washington,
whatever your opinion may have been, I expect my orders
to be obeyed." " The men cannot face the British,"
answered Lee. "They can and they 'shall," said Washing-
ton, "will you lead this attack, or shall I?" "It is the
same to me wherever I command," answered Lee angrily.
"Then remain here, and remember I expect you to check
the enemy." "Your orders shall be obeyed," said Lee.
All day the battle raged, and when night came the
British had been driven from the field. AYashington
directed the men to lie down just where they were and
WASHINGTON ON HORSEBACK
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 43
in the morning they would renew the attack. But when
morning dawned not a red-coat was in sight. Under
cover of the darkness they had slipped away. General
Lee was tried by courtmartial and suspended from the
service, and from that time it was understood who was
the head of the American Army. The battle of Mon-
mouth was the last great battle until the surrender of
Yorktown, three years later.
Lord Cornwallis commanded the British Army in Vir-
ginia, and Sir Henry Clinton, the British Army in New
York. The army in New York was better fortified than
the army in Virginia. Washington, therefore, unknown
to the British, withdrew most of his army from New York
and strengthened his forces in Virginia. Slowly but
surely they surrounded Yorktown, and Lord Cornwallis,
to his great surprise, found himself cut off from all sup-
plies and all communications with the other army ; and
so upon the 19th of October he surrendered to General
Washington. How the people rejoiced then, for they
knew the long war was nearly ended.
Washington now made a short visit to Mount Vernon,
the first time he had seen his home since leaving it to
attend the Continental Congress in May, 1775. He also
visited his mother at Fredericksburg. She asked a great
many questions about his health and his family, but said
not a word about the s'reat honor and glorv he had won,
WASHINGTON'S HEADQL'ABTEBS AT NEWBCRGH
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 45
To her he was only her boy, not the great Commander-in-
Chief, the hero of America.
After the battle of Yorktown, Washington made his
headquarters at Newburg on the Hudson and here
remained until the army was disbanded. When he was
about to start for Philadelphia to resign his commission,
his officers who had been with him during the long dreary
war came to bid him farewell. One by one he took them
by the hand and kissed them, but said not a word. Then
silently they walked with him from the room and down to
the wharf. As he stepped on board the boat, he turned and
waved his hat to them. In silence every man returned the
salute, their hearts too full of grief for words to be spoken.
Washington went to Philadelphia, resigned his commis-
sion, and once more became a private citizen. He hastened
back to Mount Vernon, where he passed a quiet, happy
winter enjoying the society of his wife and her grand-
children, whom they had adopted as their own. The next
Spring he resumed his old life as a farmer. He enlarged
his house, planted trees, and looked after his different
estates. No doubt he found much to do after being absent
But while Washington was planting trees and visiting
his old friends, the country was drifting to ruin. There
was no union between the Colonies, no authority, no
government. At last a convention was called to draft a
UNITED STATES TREASURY BUILDING, NEW YORK CITY.
On this site in Federal Hall, April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath as the first
President of the United States of America.
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 47
constitution. Washington was chosen a delegate from
Virginia, and for four months the Convention met day by
day, framing the Constitution by which our great nation
is now governed. At last it was completed and every
member signed it : George Washington first, as President
of the Convention. But more than a year passed before
enough States adopted it to make it the law of the
Now came the question : Who should be the first
President of the United States ? Every one named Wash-
ington, and though very reluctant to do so, he at last
accepted the nomination. He wrote to La Fayette that
after the stormy life he had led he would much rather
pass the remainder of his life quietly at home with his
family. But there was no doubt about the people's choice,
every vote was cast for Washington.
Congress was in session in Federal Hall, in Wall Street,
New York. At noon, on April 30th, 1789, Washington
entered the Senate Chamber and was escorted to the
balcony in front of the Hall by John Adams. Here
Robert R. Livingston, Chancellor of the State of New
York, pronounced the oath of office, and Washington
replied, "I swear, so help me God," and bent his stately
head to kiss the Bible lying on a stand before him. Then
the Chancellor turned to the crowded street below, waved
his hand, and cried; "Long live George Washington,
48 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
President of the United States ! " Then how the people
shouted, how bells rang and cannons roared.
With the good will of all the people, Washington entered
upon his duties as President. For eight years he held the
office. He called to his Cabinet the wisest men of the
nation. Through good and evil report he led his country
safely, guarding her from dangers at home and abroad.
He still kept his old habits of rising at four and retiring
at nine, and his chief recreations were riding and driving.
He never lost his love for good horses nor his ability to
Mrs. Washington was a lady, very courteous and kindly
in manner, and tilled her position as wife of the first Presi-
dent with great dignity and sweetness of character. But
her heart was in her home at Mount Vernon, and they
both longed for the time when they could return to it.
After serving eight years, Washington declined another
term. For more than twenty years he had really stood
at the head of the nation. He had started the country on
the road to prosperity and was tired alike of flattery and
of censure. Now that his country no longer stood in peril,
he would go back to his dearly loved farm. But before
he went he wrote his famous " Farewell Address to the
People of the United States." The one aim of his life had
been to serve his country faithfully, and the address was
full of advice, warning, and political wisdom. He attended
GEORGE WASHINGTON. 49
the inauguration of the new President, John Adams. As
he returned to his own home, the people crowded around
him and cheered and cheered. He smiled and waved his
hat to them, his hair, grown white in their service, blown
about his lace by the wind. Upon the threshold he turned
and looked long and earnestly at them. His face was very
pale and tears stood in his eyes. He waved his hand to
them and passed into the house.
Once more he returned to the quiet of his home and the
society of his family, but he was not allowed to enjoy it
Ions;. War was threatened between France and the United
States, and President Adams appointed him Commander-
in-chief once more. In March, 1797, he had returned to
his home : in July, 1798, he was appointed Commander-
in-Chief, and quietly and without complaint took up the
burden he had so gladly laid down.
But he did not bear it long. On December 12th, 1799,
while riding over his farm, he was caught in a storm of
sleet and rain and reached home chilled through by the ex-
posure. The next day he complained of a sore throat and
during the night was seized with a severe chill. Early in
the morning of December 14th physicians were called, but
could do nothing for him, and between ten and eleven that
night, after a day of most acute suffering, he passed away.
His body was laid to rest in the family vault at Mount
Vernon amid the tears of the whole nation. Beside him
50 GEORGE WASHINGTON.
sleeps his "Dear Patsy," she who made his home life so
peaceful and happy. The old mansion stands to-day as it
stood then, and Washington's bedroom and library remain
as they were when he last occupied them.
The house, tomb, and two hundred acres of the estate
were purchased in 1858 by the Ladies Mount Vernon As-
sociation, and are preserved as a memorial of their owner.
Many monuments have been erected in his honor in
different cities, and though one hundred years have passed
since a mourning nation laid him to rest in lovely Mount
Vernon, yet to this day all boats going up and down the
beautiful Potomac River toll their bells softly when pass-
ing the tomb of him who was first in war, first in peace,
and first in the hearts of his countrymen.
"The first, the last, the best ;
The Cincinnatus of the West."
But best known to the people of his own and other
lands as, George Washington, the Father of his Country.
* *J *l
■ ' : > -
, * j <mU M
& , 'a} 1 , ^ ^^n^H^H
£ v '^BU il^N r=
(H^HB^Bh^^^^^^H ''~^%^ :
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"The Sase of Monticello."
In the central part of the "Old Dominion" state, among
the foothills on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge moun-
tains, lies Albemarle County, within whose boundaries
Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States,
was born, lived, died and was buried.
Early in the eighteenth century, Peter Jefferson, a farmer
whose ancestors, traditon said, had come from the vicin-
ity of Mount Snowdon in AVales, owned an estate or
plantation near the mouth of the James River, which,
in compliment to the traditions of his family, he called
Here his wealth grew and wishing to increase his landed
estates also, he moved farther west, and upon the banks of
the Rivanna River, a tributary of the James, he patented
his title to one thousand acres of river-valley and moun-
tain-plateau land. Then, taking with him about thirty
slaves from Snowdon, he established his home upon his
The trails of hostile Indians were still fresh upon the
surrounding hills and through the unbroken wilderness
54 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
where he had chosen his estates, but the brave, hardy
pioneer cared little for that, and with the help of his
servants soon had part of his new plantation under culti-
His manliness, courage and honesty won for him the
friendship of the best people of Virginia. The Randolphs,
one of the oldest and proudest families of the Old Dom-
inion, who boasted of their connection in England with
warriors, scholars and even with royalty itself, were
special friends of Peter Jefferson, the pioneer farmer.
Colonel William Randolph took out a patent of land
adjoining his, and when Peter Jefferson wished a better
building site than any upon his own estate, Colonel Ran-
dolph sold him four hundred acres for that purpose.
Upon this tract of land Peter Jefferson built his house
and out-buildings including; cabins for his negroes. When
all was completed, he brought home his bride, Jane Ran-
dolph, a cousin of his friend and neighbor, the Colonel.
Jane Randolph was born in the parish of Shadwell, Lon-
don, and in memory of his wife's old home Peter Jefferson
named his new estate Shadwell.
Soon after their marriage Albemarle County was set off
and the County seat located at Charlottesville, although
most of the country was still a wilderness. Peter
Jefferson was one of the first justices of the peace for
the new county, and was also county surveyor. He
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 55
was a slow, grave man, very tall and .said to be the
strongest man in the state. His wife was many years
younger than himself, a noble woman, cheerful, sensible
fond of music and an excellent housekeeper.
On the thirteenth of April, 1743, their first son and
third child was born, and when the little boy, who had
been named Thomas, was about two years old, the family
moved to Tuckahoe, near Richmond. Tuckahoe was the
estate of Mrs. Jefferson's cousin and Peter's old friend,
Colonel Randolph, who died in 1745 ; and it was in com-
pliance with his last request that Peter Jefferson moved
to Tuckahoe, as administrator of the estate and guardian
of the little son of his old friend.
The family remained at Tuckahoe seven years, and here
Thomas Jefferson first attended school. In 1752, they
returned to the farmhouse at Shad well and Thomas w T as
sent to a school kept by a Scotch clergyman named
Douglass, who gave the boy his first lessons in Latin. He
also commenced to take lessons on the violin, and for
twelve years practiced three hours daily, until he become
the most skilful violinist in the country. This practice he
continued until late in life, when a broken wrist compelled
him to lay aside his precious violin forever.
In those days boys were taught to hunt and fish and use
a rifle, almost as soon as they learned to walk. Young
Thomas spent many hours hunting in the woods surround-
56 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
ing his fathers estate, and made the acquaintance of many
of the Indian chiefs, who still made their home in the
wilderness of western Virginia. Throughout his lono- life
he kept the respect and regard of those Indians, which
he gained when a boy.
When Thomas Jefferson was fourteen years old, his
father, still in the prime of life, died after a few days of
illness. Like most of the early settlers of Virginia, he
followed the English custom of leaving the home and large
estate of Shad well to his eldest son Thomas, while to an
infant son, named Randolph, he willed the smaller estate
on the James River, called Snowdon.
Mrs. Jefferson remained in the old farmhouse after her
husband's death, surrounded by her faithful servants and
caring for her daughters and infant son. But Thomas was
sent by his guardian to a private school for boys, about
fifteen miles from home. Here he took up the studies
necessary to prepare him for college and still kept up the
daily practice on his violin.
At the age of seventeen he went to Williamsburg, then
the capital of the Virginia Colony and entered an advanced
class in William and Mary College, the oldest college in
the United States with the exception of Harvard. During
his first year at college Thomas did not study very hard.
He was a tall young fellow, inheriting much of his father's
great strength and his fellow students said he was as fleet-
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 57
footed as a young deer, seeming never to tire in their long
tramps over the hills and through the heavy forests of the
Blue Ridge country.
He was fond of hunting, boating and swimming ; fond of
good horses and a graceful, daring rider; a fine violinist,
a good dinger and very fond of society. Welcomed to the
highest social rank in Virginia on account of his mother's
aristocratic relatives, and with plenty of money and ser-
vants at his command, perhaps it is not to be wondered
at that the boy's head was slightly turned and his studies
But this did not last long. He soon saw that enjoyment
and good times were a small part of a man's life work, and
in sending to his guardian the account of his first year's
expenses in college, he blamed himself for his extrava-
gance and promised to turn over a new leaf for the next
This promise he kept. He left society, hung up his
precious violin, and during his second year at college,
studied fifteen hours a day. His only exercise was a swift
run just at twilight, to a particular stone one mile from
the town, and then back again. At the end of the year
he graduated from William and Mary with high honors,
having completed the full course in half the customary
He still kept handsome, spirited horses and loved to ride
58 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
them, and there is a story that he was so particular in
having them cared for that, when his horse was brought to
the door, he would not mount until he had first brushed
its glossy coat with a fine cambric handkerchief; if any
dust or speck of dirt showed on the white cambric, the
horse was sent back to the stable and the groom repri-
Thomas Jefferson left college with a high reputation for
scholarship for one so young, and he did not give up study
because college days were over. He entered the law office
of George Wythe, a distinguished lawyer of Williamsburg,
whose acquaintance he had made while at college, and
studied law diligently for five years.
Part of his time while studying law he spent at quiet
Shadwell, looking after his estates and reading Greek and
Latin, with occasional visits to the plantations of his
neighbors when he journeyed to and from Williamsburg.
He was very methodical in his habits and remained so
until the close of his long life. He rose regurlarly at five
o'clock in winter, and in summer as early as he could see
the hands on his bedroom clock. Twilight was his time
for exercise. Then he would paddle his canoe along the
Rivanna River or. mounted on his favorite horse, take a
swift gallop along the country roads.
Sometimes he took a long walk, climbing to the crest of
one of the foothills of the mountains on his estate, about
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 59
two miles from his home, which he had named "Monticello"
("Little mountain"), and on whose summit he intended
to build a stately mansion for himself when he became of
age. Here he often sat under an oak tree, looking out
over his beautiful estate of hill and valley, woodland and
fertile fields, through which the river ran, like a shining
thread of silver in the green landscape.
At home in the evening he found relief from the dry
study of " Blackstone " and " Coke " in the strains of
sweetest melody drawn from his violin. There were no
pianos or organs in the American farmhouses of those
days, but Thomas Jefferson was a fine singer, and his
sister Jane, three years older than himself, who was his
constant companion and to whom he confided all his plans
and hopes, had also a sweet voice, and they spent many
happy hours singing songs, church hymns and psalms.
In April, 1764, Thomas Jefferson came of age, and fol-
lowing an old English custom, the young heir celebrated
his birthday by planting an avenue of locust and sycamore
trees, a few of which are still growing over the ruins of
the old farmhouse where he was born. Part of the foun-
dations and remnants of the great chimneys, with the few
surviving trees, are all that remain to mark the birthplace
of this great man ; and the meadow grass grows long and
sheep and cattle feed quietly over the spot where, with his
sisters, he played and romped in happy childhood.
60 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Thomas Jefferson was now a man, ready to do a man's
work in the world. He took up the County offices which
were his heritage and became a justice of the peace and a
parish vestryman. He also procured an act of the legis-
lature by which the channel of the Rivanna River was
widened, making it navigable to the James, so that produce
could be sent to the seaport markets by boats.
He began, also, to make improvements at Monticello,
and preparations for the mansion he wished to build there.
A young man named Dabney Carr, who was his best
college friend and chum, was a frequent visitor at Shad-
well, and the two men often climbed to the top of Monticello
where they sat and talked of what the coming years would
bring to them. Their favorite resting place was under the
branches of an oak tree, about half way to the summit.
Here they arranged a rustic seat and sitting there, talking-
together in the twilight, they made an agreement that
the one who died first should be buried by the other on
It fell to Thomas Jefferson to fulfil this promise.
In 1765, Dabney Carr was married to Jefferson's younger
sister, Martha ; in 1773, he died very suddenly and
Jefferson laid him to rest under the oak, the first grave
in the little burial place of Monticello.
Jefferson then took his widowed sister and her six
young children into his household, adopting the children
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 61
as his own, and thus proved his loyalty to the friend of
In 1765, soon after his sister Martha married, Jefferson's
favorite sister, Jane, died and Sbadwell no longer seemed
like home to the young proprietor. He studied more than
ever now and hastened the improvements and building
In 1767, he was admitted to the bar and began practice
with his old friend, George Wythe, in whose office he had
studied. He rose rapidly in his profession during the next
seven years, and though never a brilliant orator, his sound
sense and thorough knowledge of legal questions won him
a large practice. But he never liked the profession, and
once defined a lawyer as " a person whose trade it is to
contest everything, concede nothing and talk by the hour."
During his years of stud}^ in George Wythe's office,
Jefferson had made the acquaintance of Patrick Henry
and had listened to his fiery eloquence, as he denounced
Kino; George and the English Parliament in the House
of Burgesses. He also made a trip to Philadelphia to be
vaccinated, which was then a new experiment, and visited
Xew York, where he met Elbridge Gerry for the first time.
Thus these two young men, who a few years later were to
be among the makers of a great nation, were learning to
know each other well, and when the great hour came were
prepared to work together.
62 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
In 1769, Jefferson was chosen a representative of
Albemarle County in the House of Burgesses, which met
at Williamsburg, and here he met Colonel George Wash-
ington, Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry and many
other brave Virginians, who were soon to take an active
part in their country's welfare. During the first session
of the House which he attended, resolutions condemning
the taxation of the Colonies were passed, and when the
Governor of Virginia, loyal to the King, hastily dismissed
the House without waiting to hear the resolutions read,
the members met in the tavern at Williamsburg and formed
a non-importation league. Among the signers of the league
were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Thus did the heart of the Old Dominion beat strong with
sympathy for her sister colony, Massachusetts, then bear-
ing the heaviest burden of royal oppression. But the four
years following Patrick Henry's fiery speech were years of
patient endurance and useless endeavor on the part of
the Colonies, to be loyal to the Mother Country and to
During this period, Jefferson's time was fully occupied
with his law practice and he paid little attention to the
affairs of public life. He was slowly building the mansion
on the summit of Monticello, when in February, 1770, the
old farmhouse at Shad well, where he was born and where
his mother, unmarried sister and young brother still lived,
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 1^
caught fire and was burned to the ground. Jefferson was
at Williamsburg when the fire occured, and as there was
no fire department in that remote village and few
persons, except the frightened negroes, to help the family,
very little was saved from the flames. All Jefferson's
books and papers were burned, though the old negro
servant who was sent to tell him of the fire assured him
that he had "done saved Massa's fiddle."
Jefferson now moved into the only finished part of his
mansion, a small building with but one room, which later
was used as a pavilion or summer-house, and the old
farmhouse was never rebuilt.
The building of Monticello now went on as rapidly as
possible with only dull negro laborers, when all the brick
and lumber had to be manufactured on the premises. The
window sashes and glass were brought from London in
slow sailing vessels, and it is not strange, therefore, that
it was many years before the house was wholly completed.
Like its owner's character, it grew year by year, as into
it he builded his artistic dreams of beauty, his longing for
thorough steadfastness, his romantic ideals, his love for his
children and posterity, and a goodl} T share of his fortune.
All that, Monticello represented to Thomas Jefferson.
While practicing law in Williamsburg, Thomas Jefferson
became acquainted with Mrs. Martha Wayles Skelton, the
widowed daughter of John W T ayles, a prominent lawyer of
■t 4 i i vJ <*- 1 n " 5
|1 Ui<t$ N^-»
THOMAS JEFFERSON. Go
Williamsburg. Mrs. Skelton was a tall, graceful woman,
a sweet singer and a skilful performer upon the harpsi-
chord, an old-fashioned instrument somewhat like the
grand piano used at the present time. The harpsichord
made a fine accompaniment to the violin, and Jefferson and
Mrs. Skelton played and sang together whenever they
met, either at her fathers house or at the homes of their
On New Year's day, 1772, they were married at her
father's house, and immediately after the wedding dinner
they started to drive to Monticello. It had been storming
for several days and nearly two feet of snow had fallen,
which was very unusual in that state. This fact obliged them
to travel very slowly, and just at sunset they reached the
home of a neighbor, eight miles from Monticello. The
road through the hills was so badly drifted that they were
obliged to leave their carriage here and finish their jour-
ney on horseback.
Slowly making their way along the drifted roads, it took
them several hours to reach Monticello, where they found
no one awaiting them. The servants had given up their
coming- and gone to their cabins ; there was no light, no
fire and nothing to be found in the pantry to eat, but
the young couple only laughed over this cool welcome
to a bridal party, and building up a fire made themselves
at home, until daylight brought the servants to the house.
66 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Their married life, although short, was a very happ}'
one. It is said that Jefferson would accept no office or
position, however great, that would separate him from his
wife, and her devotion to her husband was equally great.
She once said of her husband, who had done a kind act
for a friend and received an ungrateful return : ''He is so
good himself that he cannot understand how bad other
people may be."
Six children were born to them, five girls and one boy,
but only two of them, Martha and Marie, lived to grow
up. About a year after their marriage Mrs. Jefferson's
father died and she inherited an estate fully as large as
her husband's. Then, resigning his law practice, Jefferson
gave his whole attention, for the next two years, to
farming. He kept a farm book, in which he recorded the
time when each crop was planted and the date it was har-
vested. It is said that every kind of tree and shrub that
would endure a Virginia winter was planted by him upon
his estate. These were the happiest years of Thomas
Jefferson's long life.
His thorough knowledge of law and his ability as a
writer soon drew Jefferson into public life, while his
intense patriotism and love of liberty compelled him to
take an active part in the stirring events that preceded the
Revolutionary War. He wrote a "Draft of Instructions"
for the Virginia delegation to the Continental Congress at
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 67
Philadelphia, and in March, 1775, was a member of the
convention which met in the church at Richmond, to
decide what Virginia would do in the war which they now
plainly saw was close at hand.
It was at this meeting that Patrick Henry made his
famous speech, "Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace ! — but
there is no peace. The war has actually begun ! The
next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our
ears the clash of resounding arms ! Our brethren are
already in the field ! Why stand we here idle? What is
it the gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life
so dear, peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know
not what course others may take ; but as for me, give me
liberty, or give me death ! "
These bold words made a deep impression on Thomas
Jefferson's mind. He now fully realized the struggle
before the colonies ; and the next month was heard the
sound of the guns at Lexington, where the brave "Minute
Men " faced the British red-coats and the first patriot
blood stained the soil of the American Colonies.
Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry were mem-
bers of the committee appointed to make preparations for
the coming conflict. On the day Washington received his
commission as Commander-in-chief of the Continental
armies, on June 20th, 1775, Jefferson took his seat in
68 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Congress. A few hours later caine the news of the battle
of Bunker Hill, and he saw General Washington ride awav
on his long journey to Boston to take command of the
Congress had been in session about six weeks when
Jefferson, the youngest member, took his seat among
them. He was thirty years old then, and his fame as a
writer had preceded him. Besides the reputation for a
masterly pen, he was called the most accomplished gentle-
man of his day, being proficient in French, Italian and
Although the sword had already been drawn against the
mother country, very few of the colonists had as yet
thought of independence. Justice from the English gov-
ernment was all they asked for, and they hoped to obtain
that by force of arms. It was not long, however, before
they could see that justice would never be theirs while
they remained colonies of England.
Jefferson himself had no wish to be free from English
rule. To one of his Randolph relatives he wrote : "There
is not in the British Empire a man who more earnestly
loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But I will
cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms
as the British Parliament proposes ; and in this I think I
speak the sentiment of America."
The year 1776 stands out, clear and strong, in the
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 69
history of the nation ; but it was only the year of effects,
the causes had been slowly accumulating through many
previous years. Now Washington had driven the British
from Boston, and the whole country felt that the time for
action had come. Thomas Jefferson was not in Congress
that winter, being kept at Monticello by the illness and
death of his mother, but he was not idle. He raised
money and supplies for the war in his own county, and
wrote many letters and pamphlets urging the necessity of
taking some decisive step toward freedom.
He returned to Philadelphia in May, and on the seventh
of June, Richard Henry Lee, leading delegate from
Virginia, offered resolutions of Independence. Congress
deferred the discussion of the resolutions until July, but
appointed a committee of five to draft the Declaration.
The five persons chosen were Thomas Jefferson, John
Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R.
Livingston ; of these men, Thomas Jefferson, as Chair-
man of the Committee, was selected to write out the
At a little M'riting desk in the parlor of a small, brick
building on Market Street, Philadelphia, he sat, while he
drew up that Declaration of American rights, that Charter
of American Freedom. After it was written, Adams and
Franklin made two or three slight changes in the words
used ; then it was read to the whole committee and by
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 71
them placed before Congress. That little desk is still
preserved, as are also the first copy of the Declaration
and the final copy with the signatures of the members of
On July 1, the debate in Congress commenced. Some
alterations were made in the copy Jefferson had presented,
but the greater part was left just as he had written it.
Then, late in the afternoon of July 4, 1776, while old
Liberty Bell was ringing out the glad tidings, the thirteen
colonies, by a unanimous vote, declared themselves free
John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress,
stepped from his chair and wrote his name in bold, beau-
tiful characters at the head of the Declaration, saying as
he did so: "There! John Bull can read that without
spectacles." One after another the delegates wrote their
names after him, and thus the little paper, which changed
the destiny of the whole Western Hemisphere, was signed.
On the second of September, 1776, Jefferson resigned
his seat in the Continental Congress and returned to
Monticello. He was offered a commission to France, to
solicit aid against England, but declined, preferring
to serve his own state. In October, 1776, he took his
seat in the Virginia House of Delegates and commenced a
vigorous reform of the state laws.
He made four great changes : First, the abolition of the
STATUE OK THOMAS JEFFERSON
(Hotel Jefferson, Richmond, Va )
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 73
Law of Entail (by which all property remained in the
possession of the family who owned it, and could not be
conveyed by deed to any one). Second, abolition of the
Law of Primogeniture, by which all the property owned
by a man descended to his eldest son, leaving all younger
children without any interest in their father's estate.
Third, the restoration of religious freedom. Fourth, the
establishment of common schools for rich and poor. The
fourth amendment was defeated and Virginia, like the
other Southern States, left her poorer population to grow
up in ignorance.
Jefferson greatly admired the common school system of
Massachusetts, and it was a source of sorrow to him all his
life that his native state was so far behind New England in
Jefferson also prepared a bill, proposing the gradual
abolition of slavery, as had been done in some of the
Northern colonies, but this bill drew a storm of opposition
upon his head. Some good, however, resulted from it, for
not long after, a law was passed forbidding the importation
of more slaves into Virginia by land or by sea. Jefferson
could see, even in that early day, that slavery was a curse
to the nation, and said : "I tremble for my country when
I reflect that God is just.'*
In May, 1777, the first and only son was born to Thomas
Jefferson and lived only seventeen days. This was a
74 THOMAS JEFFERSON
great grief to him, for he had already buried one child,
an infant daughter.
In 1779, Jefferson was chosen Governor of the State of
Virginia, Patrick Henry, the first Governor, having served
This period of Jefferson's life was one of great anxiety,
suffering and care. The Revolutionary War, with its
gloomy outlook for the feeble colonies, raged fiercely.
British armies invaded Virginia, destroying the homes and
sweeping away the property of the people. Monticello
was invaded and the family obliged to flee for their lives.
Elk Hill, the estate of Mrs. Jefferson, was wholly devas-
tated and the slaves carried away.
In 1780, Jefferson's term of office expired, and he retired
to Monticello to devote himself to the care of his wife
whose health had failed from the effects of those terrible
days when, to escape the British army, she had fled from
her home in winter, carrying in her arms an infant child,
which died soon after from the exposure.
On the sixth of September, 1782, ten years after
he had taken his bride to Monticello, a new grave was
dug in the little home cemetery, under the oaks, and
.Jefferson laid his dear wife to rest. The horrors of war
had been too severe for her gentle nature to endure,
and leaving her husband and three little daughters alone.
she sought the Land of Peace bevond the grave. Two
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 75
years afterward her youngest daughter was laid beside
Jefferson never married again. The year after his wife's
death he spent at Monticello with his motherless little ones
and the children of his widowed sister, Martha. The
months of anxious watching beside his sick wife and his
grief at her death left him broken down in health and
feeling that he was growing old.
In November, 1783, Jefferson was again elected to the
Continental Congress, and was present when General
Washington resigned his sword and commission as
Commander-in-Chief of the army.
Governor Morris had for some time been advocating a
change in the currency of the colonies, and the adoption of
the decimal system of notation, with the penny as the unit of
measure, instead of the British pounds, shillings and pence.
This was objected to, because dividing the penny would
make the money of too little value for convenience ; but
in 1784, Jefferson proposed the dollar as the true unit of
measure, sub-dividing into dimes, cents and mills, with
the higher multiple of the ten-dollar gold piece, or eagle.
While to Governor Morris belongs the honor of first
suggesting the decimal system, Jefferson could rightfully
claim to be the "Father of the American Dollar."
Another important change which Jefferson suggested,
and afterward completed, was known as the "Ordinance
76 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
of the Northwestern Territory." All that tract of country
now included in the five great states of Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, was claimed as Virginian
territory. On March 1, 1784, the Virginia delegates,
with Thomas Jefferson at their head, deeded to the "Colo-
nial Confederacy" all that northwestern territory, with
the stipulation that not less than three, nor more than
five, states should be formed out of this magnificent
addition to the American Commonwealth. Congress
accepted the deed and appointed a committee, of which
Jefferson was chairman, to draft laws for the government
of this new territory, and for that of all other lands which
might be acquired east of the Mississippi River.
The report of this committee, drawn up by Jefferson,
provided that each new state should be admitted on terms
of equality with the thirteen original colonies, that each
should have a republican form of government, and that
slavery should not exist in any new state after the year
The last clause roused bitter opposition in Congress and
was struck out of the report. Most of the colonies held
slaves at that time and were not willing to give up so
much of their wealth. It would have been well for the
new government, then just starting, had they heeded
Jefferson's advice ; but it took seventy years of experience,
and the loss of millions of lives and untold millions of
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 77
wealth, before the Southern States were convinced of the
wisdom of Jefferson's arguments.
In May, 1784, Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson
minister to France, to join Dr. Franklin and John Adams
in making commercial treaties with European nations.
Taking his little daughters with him, he sailed at once and
remained in Europe for about five years. Although he
accomplished little in concluding treaties, Jefferson tried
to make his Ions; residence in foreign lands useful to his
native country. There was but little manufacturing of
any kind done in the colonies at that time, and he urged
the necessity of establishing factories at home, instead of
importing so much from foreign countries.
He sent home descriptions of different inventions which
he saw from time to time. He wrote of the screw-
propellor just invented in Paris, and also of the Watt
steam-engine which had just come into use. He tried to
interest the Southern States in the culture of olives and
suggested that cotton "might become a precious resource"
Although admiring and wishing to imitate many of the
industries of Europe, Jefferson was a true American.
Traveling only taught him greater love for his own
country. He disliked royalty and aristocratic forms of
government and believed firmly in the common people.
He considered America the onlv true home for Americans,
78 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
and thought American children made better citizens if
educated at home. He said: "It appears to me that an
American, going to Europe for education, loses in his
morals, in his health, in his habits and in his happiness."
His true American spirit refused to honor kings for the
title they bore. The only nobility he recognized was the
nobility of mind and character. He once said : " No race
of kings has ever presented above one man of common
sense in twenty generations. The best thing they can do
is to leave things to their ministers. If the kings ever
meddle it is to do harm."
Jefferson was in France during the French Revolution.
He saw the terrible "bread procession" in Paris, the
famous Swiss Guard at the king's palace, the downfall of
the Bastile, and he saw Lafayette bravely lead the ill-
fated king and queen out on the balcony to quiet the
raoino - mob. But through it all, he remained the calm,
conscientious representative of a free government, never
disturbed nor ruffled by the excitement about him.
On November 23, 1789, he returned to America and
was once more at home on his own estates. His eldest
daughter, Martha, was married that winter to a Randolph, a
distant relative of her grandmother, and soon after her
wedding Jefferson became the first Secretary of State in
President Washington's cabinet.
When Jefferson took his place in Washington's cabinet
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 7'.)
the new Constitution was just in process of being estab-
lished. Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury,
was trying to put the credit of the new Government on a
sure foundation, and all were doing their utmost to
make the government of the United States the best and
and most just in the world. Still, our forefathers were
only human like ourselves and were sometimes mistaken
in their judgment.
A Republican form of government was a new experiment ;
none had ever succeeded for any length of time, and there
were many who honestly believed that it was impossible
to have a government "of the people, by the people."
They believed that no nation could exist without a king
at its head, whose authority should be undisputed : while
others just as honestly believed that a nation could be
governed by laws made and sanctioned by the common
Both sides were in earnest, both wished only the best
welfare of their country, won by so many years of war and
suffering. But this difference of opinion caused many
earnest arguments and a good deal of hard feeling, just as
political discussion does today.
Thomas Jefferson was a firm believer in the rights of
the common people and in their ability to govern them-
selves, under laws made by their chosen representatives.
His arguments won the day, and to-day we are a people
80 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
free to make our own laws, with no "kings, princes, or
potentates" to rule over us. Jefferson believed in a free
Democracy, ruled by officers elected by the people, but
Hamilton, his chief opponent, believed in a Democrac} r
ruled by a life-long or hereditary ruler. The two men
could never agree, and appreciating Hamilton's great
service to the countiy as a financial leader, Jefferson
resigned his position upon Washington's re-election and
once more retired to Monticello.
He was now fifty years old ; his daughters were married
and with their families gathered around him, so that he
said his life as a farmer was always the happiest and best.
He was very fond of children, and during the whole of
his long life the halls of stately Monticello rang with their
merry voices, as nieces, nephews, children and grand-
children found a home and a welcome beneath its hospi-
In 1796, Washington refused to again accept the nomi-
nation for President, and John Adams was chosen
to succeed him. Thomas Jefferson, having the next
largest number of votes became Vice-President. As
Vice-President he presided over the Senate with grace
and dignity, and though differing in politics from President
Adams, he did his best to help his old friend throughout
the four years of his administration.
But the passage of the " Alien " and " Sedition Acts "
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 81
made President Adams very unpopular and, though nom-
inated by the Federalists for a second term, he lost the
election, while Thomas Jefferson, the Anti-Federalist or
Republican nominee, became the third President of the
United States. At the close of his first term he was
unanimously re-elected, and thus served his country as its
President for eight years.
The administration of President Jefferson is the
brightest epoch of our national history. During the first
six years, not a cloud arose to darken the prosperity of the
people. Simple and unaffected in manner, as he had
always been, President Jefferson went into office with no
more parade and display than he would make in riding
over his Monticello estate. His inaugural address
delighted his friends and pleased his enemies. Among
other things he said : " Every difference of opinion is not
a difference of principle. We have called by different
names brethren of the same principles. We are all
Republicans — all Federalists/' *
In selecting his cabinet Jefferson chose the best men he
He said the only questions concerning a candidate
should be : ' c Is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful
to the Constitution ? "
He abolished a multitude of small offices and strove to
* Tin- Anti-Federalists were afterwards called Democrats.
82 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
conduct public affairs with the strictest economy. He was
able to support the government properly, and still devote
seven million three hundred thousand dollars yearly to
paying public debts.
He treated the Western Indians fairly, respecting
their claims to the land and obtaining it of them by
purchase. He discouraged all land speculation, and
the pioneers bought their lands direct from govern-
But the most brilliant act of his administration was the
peaceful and honorable acquisition of Louisiana. This
was purchased from France for the sum of fifteen million
dollars, and the payment of all private claims against
France, held by the citizens of the United States. This
treaty was signed May 3, 1803, and placed the Mississippi
River under the control of the United States.
During the last year of President Jefferson's adminis-
tration trouble arose. France and England had long-
been at war, and each tried to gain the support of the
new nation. Finding that we were determined to remain
neutral, Great Britain began those acts which later led to
the "War of 1812. American ships were detained in
foreign ports, their crews seized as English deserters, and
often their ships and cargoes were lost.
To prevent these depredations and retaliate for some of
their injuries to us, the Embargo Act was passed, forbid-
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 83
ding American ships to leave American ports. This act
created great dissatisfaction and seems to have been the only
official act of President Jefferson which did not meet with
the approval of the American people. In 1809, Jefferson's
second term expired, and he was succeeded by one of his
warmest of friends, James Madison, by whom the Embargo
Act was soon repealed
Jefferson still remained a strong force in American
politics. He was one of the Makers of America. It has
been said of him : "If Jefferson was wrong, America is
wrong; if America is right, Jefferson was right." He
believed in liberal education, liberal politics, liberal
religion ; in a free press ; in honesty, in popular rule, in
government economies ; in no kings, no classes, room for
the oppressed ; in hostility to monopolies ; in foreign
friendship without alliances : he was opposed to a great
standing army and an expensive navy for the support of
which the people must be taxed ; he had faith in the Union
and in self-government.
At Monticello, surrounded by children and grand-
children, the aged statesman prepared to spend the closing
years of his long life. lie was sixty-six years old when he
left the "White House,'* and nearly forty years of his life
had been given to the service of his country. But he
was not allowed to remain in seclusion. To his home
came Presidents and statesmen, seeking advice and counsel
84 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
from the " Sage of Monticello," whose wisdom had been
ripened by age and experience.
To President Madison he was a valued friend and
counselor. President Monroe came to Monticello to
consult him about that "Monroe doctrine," which still
makes his name immortal, and of which Jefferson heartily
His old friend, John Adams, who had been estranged
from him when Jefferson succeeded him in the Presidency,
now became reconciled to him, and the two aged states-
men, though they never met again, wrote long letters to
But the last years of Jefferson's life were especially
devoted to the cause of education in his own state and
neighborhood. He greatly admired the common-school
system of New England and tried to persuade his own
state to adopt it. He also tried to introduce into Virginia
the "township governments," and considered the "town-
meeting " the foundation of good citizenship. But the
careless, easy-going Southern people could not be roused
to the necessity of bettering their customs, and in such
respects they remained many years behind the other
divisions of the Union.
Jefferson at last succeeded in establishing the University
of Virginia at Charlottesville, devoting time, talent, and
much of his fortune to the carrying out of this, his dearest
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 85
wish. He was far in advance of his day in politics, educa-
tion and thought, and each succeeding generation will set
a higher value on the teachings and example of Thomas
He lived to see his beloved "University" opened in the
spring of 1825, with a goodly number of students and an
able corps of professors, most of whom he obtained from
Europe. He was very old now, and long years of sacri-
fice and the desolation of two wars had left him deeply
in debt. Then, in his kindness of heart, he signed a note
for a large amount to help an old friend. The friend
failed and the payment of the indebtedness left Jefferson
But now from all parts of the Union came offers of
assistance. The country remembered her debt of grati-
tude to this faithful servant, and a popular subscription
placed the old statesman beyond immediate want. He was
greatly pleased with this proof of love and remembrance
on the part of his countrymen, and the closing days of his
life were serene and untroubled.
July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the nation's
freedom, dawned fair and beautiful. Extensive prepara-
tions were made all over the land for a great celebration
of this semi-centennial birthday of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson had been failing in strength for some
weeks and knew that but few more days were left to him
86 THOMAS JEFFERSON.
on earth. His only wish was that " it might please God
to let him see the sun rise once more on the day of free-
dom/' When the morning of the Fourth dawned, the
friends who stood beside him knew that his hours were
numbered. Over and over he exclaimed: "Nunc dimittis
Domine" (Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in
When the early rays of sunlight shone into the room
of the dying man, he lifted his weary head once more
from the pillow and smiling said, "It is the Fourth of
July," then quietly, softly, the gentle soul left the worn,
aged body, and Thomas Jefferson lived only in the hearts
of his countrymen.
Far away in New England, his old friend and comrade,
John Adams, lay also dying. He heard the sound of the
cannon and the cheers of the multitude as the " Glorious
Fourth " was welcomed for the fiftieth time, and just as
the sun was setting, he. too, closed his eyes to this world,
his last words being, " Thomas Jefferson still survives."
But he was mistaken. At the rising of the sun Jefferson
had preceded him into the Spirit World, and the old
comrades, united through a long life, in death were not
" They strove in such great rivalry
Of means, as noblest ends allow,
And blood was warm — and zeal was hisrh —
THOMAS JEFFERSON. 87
But soon their strife was o'er ; and now
Their hatred and their love are lost.
Their envy buried in the dust."
In the little family cemetery at Monticello, where in
youth he had sat planning out the future years with his
friend, and where he had laid that friend in final rest under
their favorite oak tree ; where mother, sisters, wife and
children were quietly sleeping, they laid the body of the
"Sage of Monticello/' marking his grave with a simple
obelisk bearing this inscription written by himself:
" HERE WAS BURIED
Author of the Declaration of Independence,
Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom,
Father of the University of Virginia."
More than two hundred years ago, in those early days
of our country's history, which read now like some old
time romance or fairy tale ; the days of the Mayflower and
brave Miles Standish, of Captain John Smith and the
Indian Princess Pocahontas, a list was written in the year
1623 of the names of all the men, women and children in
the colony of Virginia. In that list is found the name of
Captain Isaac Madison, who, with his little company of
pioneer soldiers, fought many a battle with their savage
Thirty years afterward John Madison, a descendant of
the brave captain, took out a patent for lands lying
between the York and James Rivers, bounded on the east
by the waters of Chesapeake Bay.
Years passed away, and generation after generation of
Madisons took out patents of land from the English gov-
ernment and clearing away the forests of Virginia, made
fertile plantations and became owners of large estates.
Among these pioneers was one named James Madison, who
owned a fine estate in Orange County called Montpellier,
and who, about the year 1749, was married to Miss
90 JAMES MADISON.
Nellie Conway, the daughter of a wealthy planter, whose
large estate in King George County was called Port
In the winter of 1751, Mrs. Nellie Madison made a long
visit to her old home at Port Conway and there, on the
16th of March, 1751, her first child was born and named
for his father, James Madison. As time passed, other
children came to the home of James and Nellie Madison
until Montpellier echoed with the merry voices of seven
children, four sons and three daughters.
The life of these little children of the South was very
different from the life of New England boys and girls.
The boys of Massachusetts and other Eastern States were
sent to school when very young and most of their time,
when at home, was employed in doing chores in the winter
months and in working in the fields during the summer,
while the girls were early taught to sew and knit, to spin
and weave and to help in all the household labors.
But children in the Southern States knew nothing of the
toil, and very little of the privations and hardships of
pioneer life. The climate was much warmer and the
winters not so long and cold as in New England ; the
fertile soil needed little care to furnish plenty of food, and
all the work on the plantation and in the house was pel -
formed by negro slaves. The children grew up, therefore
with the idea that the} 7 were not only a privileged class,
JAMES MADISON, ;,1
but were expected to become rulers of the common people
and must prepare themselves for such a position.
This was especially true of the oldest son in a family.
The law of primogeniture, by which the eldest son inher-
ited the estates and became the head of the family after
the death of the father, prevailed in Virginia, and such
boys grew up with the feeling that much was expected of
A historian, writing of that time, says: "This had a
strong effect upon the aspirations and lives of the bright
boys of that generation, as the roll of the noted men of the
early days of the Republic plainly show's. It is remark-
able how many of them were sons of Virginia farmers."
James Madison was only four years old when the news
of Braddock's defeat by the French and Indians brought
terror to the homes of the settlers on the western borders
of Virginia, and during the two years following that defeat
the people lived in dread of their savage neighbors. Mont-
pellier was so near the border that war threatened to reach
its very doors. Around the fireside and at all neighbor-
hood gatherings the people talked of nothing else ; and the
children listened eagerly, half pleased and half afraid, to
the stories told by negro mammies of Colonel George
Washington, the brave young hero commanding the Vir-
ginia riflemen, who were holding back the savage red-skins
and protecting the settlements from torch and tomahawk.
92 JAMES MADISON.
To the end of his life James Madison remembered those
days; and the child's admiration for the hero deepened as
he grew to manhood into respect, affection and veneration
for the noble man who was " first in the hearts of his
There were no schools in Virginia when the father of
James Madison was a boy, and feeling deeply his own lack
of education, he was determined that his children should
have every possible advantage which they could obtain
from the schools then established. Mrs. Madison's educa-
tion was much better than her husband's and she tauarht
her son during the early years of childhood. Like most
great and good men, James Madison learned his earliest
lessons at his mother's side and those lessons influenced his
whole life. When, in after }^ears, he held the highest
office in the nation his respect and veneration for his
aged mother was a beautiful example to all American
While still very young, little James was sent away from
home to attend a school in King and Queen County kept
by Mr. Donald Robertson. Here he remained some time
and, in addition to the English branches, he began the
study of Greek, Latin, French and Spanish. But his
parents did not like to have their boy away from them so
long and so the Rev. Thomas Martin, an Episcopal clergy-
man, came to live in the Madison home and become the
JAMES MADISON «J3
private teacher of the young heir and his brothers and
James now began preparation for college and, influenced
by his father's ideas of the great importance of a thorough
education, he devoted his whole time to reading and study,
neglecting the Ashing, hunting, riding and boating which
formed the healthy recreations of the young planters of the
Old Dominion, and which were just as necessary to the
future welfare of the boy as his books and studies.
In the adjoining county of Albemarle, and just a pleas-
ant day's ride from Montpellier, was Shadwell, the home
of Thomas Jeft'erson who, although eight years older than
James Madison, was much attached to the bright young
boy, and whom the latter looked upon as a model of learn-
ing and wisdom and to whom he came for advice and
assistance in his studies. Jefferson, however, did not
always prove a wise counsellor. Strong in mind and body,
with an iron constitution that seemed never to tire, he
laid out a course of study for his frail young friend
which would have taxed his own great strength ; and in
trying to follow the course laid down for him Madison's
health began to fail before he went to college.
In 1769, James Madison was sent to Princeton College,
New Jersey, with a much better preparation than most
boys of his day.
The year 1769 was, perhaps', the beginning of American
94 JAMES MADISON.
history. It was the year in which the Virginia House of
Burgesses asserted the exclusive right of the colonies to tax
themselves, and declared that Massachusetts was oppressed
and that, moreover, the oppression of one colony, was the
oppression of all. For this patriotic assertion, (disloyalty,
the English Governor called it ), the House had been dis-
solved by the Governor and the members had re-assembled
in the ballroom of the old Raleigh tavern at Williamsburg,
where they formed a non-importation league. George
Washington and Thomas Jefferson were members of that
House of Burgesses and both signed the league.
We may be sure that Jefferson, in his long letters to his
young friend at Princeton College, did not neglect to tell
him of all these stirring incidents and, although at that
time New Jersey was the quietest of the English colonies,
she was afterwards to have more battles fought upon her
soil in the grand struggle for Liberty than any other state
except New York .
At Princeton the young student, fresh from a Southern
plantation, made the acquaintance of men, both young and
old, from all the other colonies ; men whose lives had been
very different from his own, whose ancestors came from
different countries and whose habits, manners, and prin-
ciples were new and strange to the young Southerner. But
he had entered college with good habits, a high purpose,
and a stainless moral character which he kept pure and
JAMES MADISON. ;».-,
spotless to the end of his long and busy life. He Avas
devout and high-minded, a member of the Established
Church of England and fond of reading theology.
Had Madison been content to take the regular college
course of study his capable brain could easily have accom-
plished the task ; but with the example of Thomas Jefferson
ever before him, he took up study after study outside the
regular college course. The result was that, when at the
end of three years he graduated from Princeton with the
degree of Bachelor of Arts, his health was nearly ruined.
But he remained at college another year to take a post-
graduate course ; then, in 1772, he returned to Montpellier
and assisted his father in the management of their estate,
and became the teacher of his younger brothers and sisters.
The stirring events of that time had roused the interest
of the students even in the seclusion of Princeton and
Madison, like all young Americans, resented the oppres-
sion and tyranny of King George.
In a letter written to his father in July, 1770, he said:
" We have no public news but the base conduct of the mer-
chants of New York, in breaking through their spirited
resolutions not to import. Their letter to the merchants
of Philadelphia, requesting their concurrence, was lately
burned by the students of this place, in the college yard,
all of them in their black gowns, with the college bell
9fi JAMES MADISON.
Looking back one hundred and thirty years at that
picture of the college boys of Princeton, wearing their
black gowns and gathered in the yard, solemnly burning
the letter their patriotic spirits condemned, we can see
plainly the love of liberty, the defiance of tyranny and
oppression which prompted the act, and it would have been
well for them had King George and his ministers heeded
the warning. A few years later many of those boys
exchanged their black gowns for the Continental uniform,
while the Boston school boys who, the winter before had
snow-balled the redcoats off their playground, were waiting
behind the breastworks of Breed's Hill, with leaden bul-
lets instead of snowballs.
The four years after James Madison left Princeton
were years of patient waiting and steady preparation
on the part of the Colonies for the conflict that all could
see must come. Younger men were taking an active part
in their country's service, and the ties which had bound the
older generations to the "mother-country," had little
influence with them.
British oppression still continued. Boston held her
famous Tea Party and was punished by the passage
of the Boston Port Bill, which closed the harbors of
Massachusetts. The Continental Congress met in Phila-
delphia and committees of safety were appointed in
the different counties. Among those chosen in Orange
JAMES MADISON. 97
County, Virginia, were James Madison, Si\, and James
Virginia contributed her full share of men and materials
to the Continental Army at Boston, and furnished the
Commander-in-Chief. The people in Virginia were also
kept busy from the beginning to the end of the Revolu-
tionary War in protecting their frontier settlements from
the Indians, who, instigated by the British, made frequent
raids upon the settlers, destroying life and property.
Madison wrote : " From the best accounts I can obtain from
our frontiers, the savages are determined on the extirpation
of the inhabitants and no longer leave them the alternative
of death or captivity. It is asserted that there is not an
inhabitant for some hundreds of miles back (which have
been settled for many years) except those who are in forts,
or in some military camp.
The Continental Army was steadily increasing in num-
bers and improving in training. In speaking of it to a
friend, James Madison said : " There will by spring, I ex-
pect, be some thousands of well-trained, high-spirited men,
ready to meet danger whenever it appears, who are influ-
enced by no mercenary principles, but bearing their own
expenses, and having the prospect of no recompense but
the honor and safety of their country.''
Again, when the news of the blow struck at Lexington
and Concord reached him, he wrote: "It is our opinion that
98 JAMES MADISON.
the blow struck in the Massachusetts colony is a hostile
attack on this and every other colony, and a sufficient war-
rant to use violence and reprisal in all cases in which it
may be expedient for our security and safety."
James Madison was now twenty -three years old, so frail
in body that he could take no active part in the war for
liberty, but so strong in principles, so fixed in his con-
victions of duty, so clear in perception of truth, right, and
sound public policy, that he came to be considered one
of the wisest statesmen in the legislative councils of his
The year 1776 brought gloomy prospects for the colo-
nies. On New Year's Day the people of Virginia learned
what British tyranny and oppression could do. Already
the border Indians had been urged to savage warfare by
British officers; and on January 1, 1776, without any
provocation, save the desire to teach the colonies what
the King's vengeance meant, an English fleet bombarded
and destroyed Norfolk, the largest and richest town in the
Virginia colony. Five thousand people, innocent of any
transgression against British authority, were driven from
their homes in midwinter, their houses burned, their
property confiscated, and the people of the colony were
plainly told that all settlements along the coast would
soon share the same fate.
The Virginians bitterly resented this outrage and with
JAMES MADISON. 99
sad hearts prepared to resist British authority and oppres-
sion. When the April elections took place the people of
Orange County sent James Madison as their delegate to
the state convention which was held in May at Williams-
burg. The burning of Norfolk had prepared the people of
Virginia for Independence, just as Lexington, Concord and
Bunker Hill had prepared Massachusetts, and the Williams-
burg convention, therefore, sent their delegates to Congress
with instructions to urge an immediate declaration of Inde-
pendence. At the same time Virginia declared herself an
James Madison was a member of the committee appointed
to draft a State Constitution. One of the articles of the
new constitution proposed by him declared that tf all men
are entitled to the free and full exercise of their religion ;"
but this clause was dropped. James Madison, the young-
est member, made a deep and lasting impression upon the
older men who made up that convention. Thomas Jeffer-
son said of him : " Mr. Madison came into the House in
1776, a new member, and young. In 1777, he became a
member of the Council of State, and from there went to
" His discriminating mind and extensive information ren-
dered him the first of every assembly of which he became a
member. With these powers was united a pure and spot-
less virtue which no calumny has ever ventured to assail."
100 JAMES MADISON.
While Virginia was adopting her constitution and choos-
ing Patrick Henry first governor of the State, old Liberty
Bell in Philadelphia rang out the Declaration of Inde-
pendence, proclaiming Liberty to all the nation.
Then followed the long years of war, with all its horrors
and suffering, its anxieties and disappointments. Years
that tried not only the courage and patience of men but
their honor and good sense also. Years when wise coun-
sellors were as necessary as trained soldiers, and when the
country needed brave statesmen as well as brave generals.
Among those who were wise statesmen, James Madison
ranked with the highest, although he lost one election to
the Legislature of his State by refusing to follow the cus-
tom of that time and furnish an unlimited supply of liquor
on election day. He was willing to ask men to vote for
him, but refused to "treat" any one, saying that "the
reputation and success of representative government
depends on the purity of popular elections." But in
November of the same year he was elected by a large
majority a member of the Council of State. Madison's
education had much to do with his election to the Council,
since no other member understood foreign lano-uao;es and
there were many letters from European nations to be
answered, and many foreign military men who sought com-
missions in the little army of the new republic.
In 1779, James Madison was chosen as a delegate to
JAMES MADISON. Jul
Congress from Virginia, and on March 26, 1780, he
arrived at Philadelphia and took his seat.
He was not quite thirty years old, but he had won the
confidence of his own state and of the men from other colo-
nies who conducted the government. The letters written
to Thomas Jefferson by Madison, at this time, describe
the many evils and failures of the new o-overnment, and
show plainly that he was constantly studying, not how to
increase his own wealth and importance, but how to remedy
the mistakes, failures and disasters he saw around him.
The republic was then a new experiment and Madison,
with other brave, strong men of his day, worked con-
stantly and faithfully to establish that "government of the
people, by the people, and for the people," which we
proudly preserve as our most precious heritage.
The new republic was greatly in need of money. There
was none in the Treasuiy — in fact there was no Treasury,
— and when men were sent to Europe to try to borrow
money, the first question asked by the shrewd money-
lenders was : " What security can you give ? How do
you propose to raise money to pay your national debt ?
What are your sources of revenue?*' To these questions,
alas ! there was no answer. Congress now issued Con-
tinental money, but it was nearly worthless. Thomas
Jefferson loaned the State of Virginia thirteen thousand
dollars in gold, and when he received payment in Con-
102 JAMES MADISON.
tinental currency, the amount just bought him an over-
The members of Congress were paid a salary by their
respective states but the money had so little value it would
not pay their board bills, and James Madison, with the
others, was often greatly in need of a little money. Their
country's need, however, was greater than their own and
they made no complaint.
It has been said of James Madison that he was never a
boy. Perhaps his ill health and delicate frame made him
seem old. Although always cheerful and sociable, he was
never carried away by fiery enthusiasm like Patrick Henry,
never so hot-headed and impetuous as John Adams, and
was more even-tempered and impartial than George Wash-
ington himself. In those debates in Congress, where so
many lost their self-control, he was always cool, calm and
courteous, and this ability to "keep cool," united with, his
knowledge of foreign laws, his foresight and intelligence,
made him one of the wisest, most useful men in the Con-
There were a oreat many laws to be made for the new
nation. When we think of all the different branches of
our great system of government, from township officers to
president, of all the foreign nations with whom we have
treaties and the necessary laws relating to those treaties,
' and to our commerce with the whole world, we can form
JAMES MADISON. in.;
some idea of the great task the statesmen of our country
found before them after the Declaration of Independence.
Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison
laid the foundation on which this great structure of civil
On January 20, 1783, a general treaty of peace was
sio-ned at Paris, and the United Colonies were left to
adjust themselves on a new basis — that of Freedom. In
1784, Madison's term in Congress expired and he returned
to Montpellier. He was immediately elected to the Vir-
ginia Assembly, and this time he had no need to solicit
votes or buy election whiskey. There was no other man
in the country so competent to till the position and he soon
became one of the ruling minds in the State Legislature.
Patient, courteous, but persistent, he made many reforms
in the laws of the Old Dominion ; and in the autumn of
1785, the legislature passed an act "for the establishing of
religious freedom."' Jefferson was the author of this act
and for several years had urged its passage, but to James
Madison's untiring zeal was due its final triumph.
In February, 1785, the college of William and Mary
conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws upon Madison, and
during the same year he made a visit to General Washing-
ton at Mt. Vernon. He also visited New York in company
with the Marquis La Fayette and with him attended a
gathering of the Six Nations at Fort Schuyler, New York.
104 JAMES MADISON.
Later in the year La Fayette, accompanied by General
Washington, visited Montpellier and the Legislature of
Virginia at Williamsburg;.
In 1786, Madison's term in the Virginia Assembly closed
and he was again elected a delegate to Congress, where he
took his seat in February. 1787.
The 14th of May, 1787, had been chosen as the date for
a Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia. It had
become necessary to form some kind of a government
which would bind the states together with a common
interest or they would soon be at war among themselves.
James Madison was a delegate to this convention and he
had given so much study to the subject, that when he
started for Philadelphia he carried with him a written out-
line of a constitution. He said afterward that this was
"the earliest sketch on paper, of a constitutional govern-
ment for the Union, to be sanctioned by the people. 1 "
Framing a constitution was slow work. It seemed
impossible to draw up a paper to which all the delegates
would agree. But at last the parchment copy was pre-
pared and one after another the delegates signed it, until
these final words were written :
"Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the
States present, this 17th day of September, in the year of
our Lord 1787, and of the Independence of the United
States of America the twelfth."
JAMES MADISON. 105
The Constitution was then laid before Congress, and
again James Madison spoke long and often in favor of its
During that summer a series of papers called the
"Federalist" was printed in a New York Journal and
they are still considered standard authority on the
Constitution. Of these papers Alexander Hamilton wrote
forty-six, James Madison twenty-nine and John Jay five.
When the Constitution was ratified by Congress, the
country was called on to elect a president, and George
Washington was unanimously chosen the first President of
the United States, with John Adams as Vice-President.
James Madison remained in Congress until the spring
of 1793, when he returned to Montpellier, determined to
rest for a time. This, however, he was not allowed to do,
for he was immediately re-elected to the Congress which
was to meet in Philadelphia in December, 1793.
A young lawyer named John Todd, living in the city of
Philadelphia, was married in the year 1790 to a very
beautiful young girl named Dorothy Payne. Their home
was a very happy one until in September, 1793, the ter-
rible yellow fever broke out in the city, and proved so
fatal that the death-rate reached two hundred in one week.
John Todd sent his wife and babies to Gray's Ferry for
safety, but remained in the city himself to look after his
aged father and mother. They soon sickened and died and
106 JAMES MADISON.
then John Todd hastened to join his family. But he had
delayed too long and in the very hour of his arrival at
Gray's Ferry, he was taken ill and in a few hours died.
Mrs. Todd and her two children were the next to suffer,
and the youngest child, a month old baby, died. Mrs.
Todd and her little son recovered and as soon as the
danger was over, returned to Philadelphia.
Mrs. Todd was then twenty-two years old, wealthy,
beautiful, and so attractive that a lady friend once said to
her : "Really, Dolly, thou must hide thy face, there are so
many staring at thee." Dorothy Todd had been brought
up in the Quaker religion and wore the soft gray dress and
white cap and kerchief of that sect.
When James Madison took his seat in Congress in 1793,
he was forty-three years old, a bachelor and one of the
best-known and most honored men in the country. Seeing
pretty Dorothy Todd one day, he asked Aaron Burr to
introduce him, and there is still preserved a note written
by Mistress Dorothy to a friend, in which she says :
" Aaron Burr says that the f great little Madison ' has
asked to be brought to see me this evening."
After that evening the " great little Madison " called
often at the home of pretty Dorothy, and on September
15th, 1794, they were married and drove in their own Car-
riage to Montpellier, where they remained until the next
session of Congress. From that time "Dolly Madison"
JAMES MADISON. 107
was as well known and as highly honored as her noble
At the close of President Washington's second adminis-
tration on March 4th, 1797, James Madison returned once
more to Montpellier, determined to rest from public life
and give his time and attention to the care of his large
estates. But in 1798 he was again elected a member of the
Virginia Assemby where he remained in office until the
election of Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the
When President Jefferson made his inaugural address
on March 4th, 1801, his old friend was not there to
hear him. The death of his father and the duty of set-
tling his estates detained him at Montpellier : but when
Jefferson appointed him Secretary of State he moved his
family to Washington and took his place as head of the
The four years which had passed since James Madison
left Congress in 1799 had brought many changes. Phila-
delphia was no longer the seat of government ; the new city
of Washington was now the Capitol of the United States,
and there the new Secretary of State and his pretty wife
made their home. President Jefferson's wife had been
dead many years. Both his daughters were married and
living in their own homes, and when social events at
the White House required a lady's presence, President
108 JAMES MADISON.
Jefferson called the wife of his old friend to assist him,
and "Dolly Madison " was really the "Lady of the White
House" during the eight years of President Jefferson's
Jefferson's first term was one of such peace and pros-
perity that it has been called the "golden era" of the
nation. His second election was almost unanimous, but
during the first year of the term trouble came.
Great Britain, regretting the loss of her colonies and
having the strongest navy in the world, determined to pro-
voke another war with the United States, hoping to win
back the country she had lost.
Congress issued protests, and sent statesmen to England
to negotiate for a new treaty, but believing herself strong
enough to crush the young nation, England would make
One da} r the British man-of-war Leopard fired upon the
American frigate Chesapeake, killing and wounding several
men. Then her crew, boarding the ship, captured and
carried aw T ay four American sailors, on the ground that
they were British subjects.
The people of the United States were roused by this out-
rage. President Jefferson summoned a special session of
Congress and issued a proclamation, forbidding British
ships of war to remain in American waters, but they paid
no attention to this proclamation.
JAMES MAUISON. 109
When Congress assembled in 1807 they were not pre-
pared to declare war, but the Embargo Act was passed,
closing American ports against foreign vessels and confin-
ing all American ships to home trade.
For a while the nation approved of this Act, but it soon
proved a greater injury to the United States than to Great
Britain, and Jefferson was urged to repeal it during his
last year in office. This he refused to do. It was made
one of the issues in the next Presidential campaign and
when, in 1808, James Madison was chosen Fourth Presi-
dent of the United States, he went into office pledged to
repeal the Embargo and Non-intercourse Acts.
Almost the first official act of President Madison was the
repeal of the Embargo, to take effect June 10, 1809, and
this caused great rejoicing throughout the country. Presi-
dent Madison also made an agreement with the English
minister at Washington, by which all ships engaged in
commerce were to be unmolested. Every one hoped for
an era of prosperity and many were the thanks and bless-
ings bestowed on the President.
All along the Atlantic coast was life and action. Ham-
mers rang day and night in the dock-yards where silence
had long reigned and the deserted wharves, where ships
had long lain idle, rotting at their moorings, echoed with
the voices of busy men. On the morning of June 10th,
amid the cheers of men, the booming of cannon and ring-
HO JAMES MADISON.
ing of bells, more than one thousand ships, with white sails
spread, floated out to sea.
But the hope of peace and prosperity was short-lived.
England refused to ratify the agreement made by her
minister, and to protect American vessels, President Madi-
son was obliged to declare the Embargo Act once more in
force. Then those who had praised him most were the
first to denounce and blame him, forgetting that he had no
control over the British Government.
British outrages continued. France also began to make
trouble. American property was confiscated or destroyed
upon the seas. But the stolen dollars did not rouse the
wrath of the American people as did the kidnapping of
American sailors. Against this wrong Henry Clay and
John C. Calhoun spoke with a fiery eloquence that reached
the heart of the nation.
President Madison was accused of wishing to preserve
peace at the expense of the nation's honor, but that charge
wronged him. He had seen the horror and desolation of
the Revolutionary war : he knew how small the American
navy was, how feeble her armies ; he had known the diffi-
culty of raising money to carry on a war ; he had helped to
establish the young nation on a firm foundation and he
dreaded to declare war, and plunge the country he had so
faithfully served into fresh disasters. He determined, that
if there must be war, it should be with but one nation at a
JAMES MADISON. Ill
time, and wished to come to some understanding with
either England or France, or both, if possible. He knew
also that a great number of the American people were
opposed to a war with England, and that the only hope of
success would be in a united effort by the States.
But the war feeling grew stronger, until a majority of
the people believed that England should be made to respect
the American Flag and American citizens, wherever found.
On June 1, 1812, therefore, President Madison sent a
message to Congress, recommending a declaration of war.
Another Presidential election was at hand and Madison was
a candidate for re-election. He has been accused of declar-
ing war to obtain a re-election, but the reader of history
cannot help seeing that a war with Great Britain at that
time was the only honorable course left to the nation.
The last administration of President Madison is really a
history of the War of 1812. Our navy won splendid victo-
ries upon the water and there was fighting all along our
borders. History tells the thrilling story of Perry's vic-
tory on Lake Erie, and of Jackson's victory at New
Orleans. The British won some victories on land, but the
little American Navy taught them that England no longer
"ruled the seas."
An interesting incident of the war, and one closely con-
nected with President Madison and his wife, was the burn-
ing of the city of Washington by the British in 1814.
11-2 JAMES MADISON.
War had been going on about two years, when the Brit-
ish, who had been blockading the harbors of Virginia and
bombarding towns along the coast, grew bolder and sent
bodies of soldiers inland, who pillaged and burned the
towns and killed or captured the inhabitants. Admiral
Cockburn, who afterward carried the Emperor Napoleon to
St. Helena, commanded the British fleet in Chesapeake
Bay and his name became a terror along the Virginia coast.
It began to be feared that he would sail up the Potomac
and attack the Capitol, and President Madison consulted
General Armstrong, the Secretary of War, about defending
the city. "What!" exclaimed the wise Secretary, "the
British attack Washington? Pooh, nonsense !" This gave
the people great confidence, and when a motion to provide
a larger military force to defend the city was laid before
Congress, it was quickly voted down. But President
Madison had lived through one war against Great Britain,
and he did not feel so confident of safety as the brave
Secretary of War. He called a meeting of the Cabinet,
laid the case before them, and insisted that they should
adopt some plan of defense.
This they decided to do, but so little did they fear an
attack from the British that they made no haste to earn-
out the plan,
Several thousand British soldiers were now assembled
on the coast, and on the morning of August 19, 1814, a
JAMES MADISON. 1 1.]
horseman rode rapidly through the valley between the
Potomac and Patuxent Rivers, shouting wildly : " To arms !
to arms ! Cockburn is coming !" James Munroe, Secretary
of State, had gone out to watch the movements of the
British and he now sent a message to the President, say-
ing : "The enemy has advanced six miles along the road
and our troops are retiring. You had better make prepa-
rations to leave."
The Secretary of War still insisted that there was no
cause for alarm. The American soldiers could defeat and
drive back the British before they could reach the city ;
but on August 22, President Madison decided to ride out
and see for himself how matters stood.
Mrs. Madison had made arrangements for a state dinner
party at the White House and she went bravely on with
the preparations, refusing to be frightened while her hus-
band remained in the city, but soon after he rode away a
message came to her from James Monroe saying :
"The enemy are in full march to Washington. Our
troops are retiring. Have materials prepared to destroy
the bridges. You had better remove the records."
Mrs. Madison at once gave orders to have all the public
documents and records carried out of the city, and clerks
and servants worked all day and all night to place them
beyond the reach of the British. Mrs. Madison herself
waited anxiously for news of her husband. She knew
114 JAMES MADISON.
there was danger for him not only from the British, but
from his own people, who, having first blamed him for
being too slow to declare war, now blamed him for all
their misfortune, saying that he had caused the war and
that it was he who had failed to defend the city.
Mrs. Madison was urged to leave the city at once since
the British would undoubtedly destroy it, and she packed all
her husband's valuable papers in trunks and placed them in
her carriage ready for flight. Then all night long she
waited for news of the President. About noon, on August
24, she heard the booming of cannon, and knew a battle
was raging not many miles away.
Two hours later a messenger came riding into the town,
his face grimed and bleeding, his horse panting and foam-
covered. " Fly ! Fly !" he shouted, "The enemy are upon
us!" Close at his heels came men and soldiers running
and shouting: "Fly! Fly! The British are here!" Then
the people rushed from their houses and a terrible scene of
confusion followed. A historian says :
"Screaming, shouting, jostling, trampling one another
under foot in their headlong flight, the tumultuous con-
course of men, women, children and horses rushed toward
the river, and in a frenzied surging mass, fought their way
across the Long Bridge, in frantic eagerness to escape
from the doomed city, and find a refuge among the woods
and hills of Virginia. "
JAMES MADISON. 1 15
In great alarm, Mrs. Madison still awaited the return of
her husband. Then she determined to save a life-size
portrait of General Washington which hung in one of the
rooms of the White House. Directing her servants to
break the heavy frame with an axe she carefully rolled up
the portrait. Some friends ran in crying "Fly, fly at
once, Madam, the British are upon us." "Save this pict-
ure," she answered, "and if you cannot save it, destroy it.
Do not let it fall into the hands of the British."
Then she ran out to her carriage, but stopped to think if
she had saved everything valuable. The public documents
and records were safe, but if the British burned the White
House, was there anything belonging to the government
that she had neglected to save? Instantly she turned and
ran back into the house ! The Declaration of Independ-
ence ! She had forgotten that ! The precious parchment
was kept in a glass case on a table in one of the rooms.
Back to that room sped Mistress Dorothy, and breaking
the glass with her hands, seized the " priceless charter of
American Freedom," and hastening to her carriage was
driven away toward Georgetown. Once more she turned
back, determined to find her husband, and met him just as he
was leaving the town with some friends. Arranging to meet
at a tavern about sixteen miles from the city both started on.
Through the crowd Mrs. Madison's coachman made his
way, and often she was obliged to get out and walk where
116 JAMES MADISON.
the road was rough, then the crowd jostled and jeered her.
saying her husband was the cause of all this trouble. At
last she took refuge in a farm-house, and the next day
made her way to the tavern, where the President was wait-
ing for her. Here an alarm was soon given that the
British were coming in search of him, and the friends of
the President hurried him away to a little cabin in the
forest. Madison was the only President of the United
States who was ever obliged to leave the Capitol or flee
from an enemy.
During this time the British had been busy in the city.
Admiral Cockburn had expected to take possession of the
Navy Yard and Arsenal, and capture the military stores ;
but the Commandant of the Navy Yard obeyed the Presi-
dent's orders and set fire to them when he saw that they
would fall into the hands of the British. Disappointed
and angry, the Admiral commanded his soldiers to set fire
to the Capitol. When this was done the lawless soldiers
broke into the White House, ate up the State dinner
prepared for Dolly Madison's guests, and then set fire to
the house. Other public buildings were fired, and soon
the whole city seemed in flames.
A terrible storm arose, the wind blew a hurricane, and
the people, watching from their refuge in the Virginia
hills, saw their beautiful city wrapped in sheets of flame,
which spread farther and farther, higher and higher, until
JAMES MADISON. 117
the heavens seemed one vivid glowing vault of fire. Shells
stored in the arsenal were bursting, powder magazines
exploding; great walls came crashing down, and then the
awful storm of thunder, lightning, wind and rain burst
over the doomed city.
Satisfied at the result of their work and the destruc-
tion caused by the storm, the British soldiers stole away in
the night to their ships, carrying many dead and wounded
comrades, killed and injured by the falling walls and the
fury of the storm.
On the night of August 2t>, Mrs. Madison returned to
Washington, stopping at the home of her sister, whose
house had escaped the flames. The next day the President
joined her but not many days afterward they went to
Montpellier, where they remained a few weeks, until the
city buildings were repaired.
But the loss of the city had one good result. The
American people ceased to blame the President for the
war, and eager to avenge the defeat and humiliation, won
splendid victories at Baltimote and New Orleans, until the
British, wearied by constant defeat, and greatly harassed
by the French ( with whom they were also at war ) sought
peace. The next December the treaty of Ghent was
signed and peace was once more restored to the American
nation. American ships could now come and go in
safety, the nation had proved its ability to defend itself,
118 JAMES MADISON.
and a common cause had bound the states in a closer union.
President Madison was now as highly praised as he
had been severely censured a short time before ; but he
deserved neither praise nor blame. The causes of war
were beyond his control, and though a bolder, stronger
man might have made a better lighter, Madison's wisdom
and statesmanship may have saved the nation even greater
loss than resulted from the War of 1812.
In 1816, James Monroe was chosen President, and after
his inauguration, March 4, 1817, Mr. and Mrs. Madison
retired to their home at Montpellier. Mr. Madison was
now sixty-six years of age, while Mrs. Madison was but
forty-five. The estate of Montpellier consisted of about
twenty-five hundred acres of land and one hundred slaves.
Mrs. Madison was also very wealthy, and they had built
for themselves a beautiful new home close beside the old
one. In the old house, where the President was born, his
aged mother still lived, faithfully tended by the old ser-
vants, who had been young when she came as a bride to
Montpellier. Mr. Madison was a devoted son and Mrs.
Madison proved a model daughter-in-law. The old lad}-
once said of her: "Dolly is my mother now, and cares
most tenderly for all my wants." She died when ninety-
eight years old.
Ex-President Madison was growing old now, though
time had dealt kindly by him, and in his beautiful home,
JAMES MADISON. 119
which looked out across a pleasant valley to the Blue
Ridge mountains beyond, he lived twenty years. It was
only thirty miles to Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson
lived, and the two old friends and ex-presidents often
visited each other.
Pretty Mistress Dolly was as charming a hostess in her
country home as she had been in the White House, and
many distinguished guests were entertained at Montpellier.
Lafayette visited them when he came to America in 1825,
and the house was often filled with kind friends who came
to pay their respects to the old statesman.
But old age kept creeping nearer, and at length the
gentle, patient old man was confined to his house, and then
rheumatic trouble confined him to his chair for a long time.
Early in the summer of 1836, his friends saw that he had
not long to live, but patiently, cheerfully and calmly he
awaited the coming of death, and on the 28th of June,
1836, he closed his eyes and passed away so quietly that
the watching friends did not know when death came. No
children had ever been born to him and in his home only
his wife was left to mourn his absence, but to the American
nation it was as if a father had passed away, and no one
was ever more sincerely mourned than James Madison.
A tall white column marks the spot where James Madi-
son, Fourth President of the United States and Father of
the American Constitution, quietly rests.
" A power was his beyond the touch of art
Or armed strength. It was his mighty heart."
Although a whole generation already grown to manhood
and womanhood, many of them with children of their own,
has been born since that Friday in April, 1865, when
Abraham Lincoln died from the bullet of an assassin, yet,
to-day the story of his lonely childhood, his toilsome life,
his brave struggle for something higher and better, his
success as a lawyer and a politician, his election to the
highest office his countrymen could give him, his faithful
service and earnest patriotism through the long years of
Civil War, and at last his tragic death just when all he had
toiled and suffered for seemed won, holds the earnest
attention, wakens the highest admiration and respect, and
claims the strongest sympathies of all who read it.
The life of Abraham Lincoln reads more like the stories
of ancient Greek and Roman heroes, than like the life of an
124 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
American citizen of the nineteenth century ; but rising far
above all heroes of any age or nation, —
" Standing like a tower,
Our children shall behold his fame,
The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise not blame.
New birth of our new soil, the first American."
Born on the twelfth day of February, 1809, Abraham
Lincoln was a descendant of those hardy pioneers, who
with no capital but strength and courage, a keen axe and
an unerring rifle, carved new states from the solid wilder-
ness, and built a great nation.
In 1780, the grandfather of Abraham Lincoln, after
whom President Lincoln was named, moved from Virginia
to the fertile valleys of Kentucky, to settle near his friend
and relative, Daniel Boone. Choosing a pleasant location,
he built a log cabin and for six years worked diligently at
clearing his new farm, — always with his rifle near at hand,
for the Kentucky forests were full of Indians, who, hidden
behind trees or in thickets, watched for an opportunity to
kill the white man and his helpless family, or to burn and
destroy their dwellings.
One morning, while working with his sons near the
house, a ball from an Indian's rifle pierced his heart, and
he fell to the ground. The youngest boy, then only seven
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 125
years old, threw his arms around his father, while the
elder son van to the house for his rifle. Just as the Indian
sprang forward to kill the little boy, the elder brother
seized his rifle, and from the door of the cabin shot the
Indian. The little boy then ran to the house, and the
Indians were driven away.
That little boy, who was named Thomas, afterward
became the father of President Lincoln.
Soon after the death of her husband, the widow with her
children moved to a more thickly settled neighborhood in
Washington County, Kentucky. There her children grew
up, and Thomas learned the carpenter's trade.
He was a strong, sinewy young fellow, kind and friendly
to every one, but with no ambition to succeed in business,
and too easy-going to become a very good mechanic. On
the twelfth of June, 1806, while working in the carpenter
shop of Joseph Hanks, he was married to Nancy Hanks, a
niece of his employer.
She was a handsome young woman of twenty-three,
more ambitious than her indolent husband, and she could
read and write, which was considered a remarkable accom-
plishment among the people of that time and place. She
even taught her husband to write his own name.
Thomas Lincoln took his wife to a little cabin about
fourteen feet square, in Elizabethtown ; and the next year a
little daughter was born, whom thev called Sarah. Shortly
126 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
afterward they moved to a small farm near Hodgensville,
in what is now La Rue County, Kentucky. The land
was very poor where they lived, and Thomas Lincoln
settled down into deeper poverty than he had ever known.
The house in which they lived was built of logs, with a
low doorway and with one small, square hole cut through
the logs by the side of the fire-place for a window. There
was no glass in the window ; it was left open in summer,
and when winter came, a piece of deer-skin was fastened
over it to keep out the cold and storm. At night a bear-
skin was hung across the doorway, for there was no door
to shut. There was no ceiling to the little house, but the
family could look up to the bare rafters and rough roof-
boards, which Thomas Lincoln had split and hewn. The
great lire-place and chimney was built of sticks and stones
plastered with clay and upon one side of it stood a rude
bench, while two or three rough blocks of wood were the
only chairs. The floor was the bare ground, smoothed and
beaten down, until it was as hard as a pavement. The bed
was a platform of poles, covered with the thick, soft, furry
skins of animals, and over it was spread a gay patch-work
To this poor home, upon the twelfth of February, 1809,
there came a line, strong, baby boy, whom his parents
named Abraham, after the grandfather who had been
killed by the Indians. Never a baby hero came to this
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 127
world amid poorer surroundings, or with so little to make
him comfortable ; and as he hi} 7 upon that rude bed,
wrapped in soft furs, staring with curious baby eyes at the
brown rafters overhead, or the firelight flickering upon the
rough logs, no one could have guessed what a wonderful
life his was to be.
Even the young mother who loved him so well, and no
doubt thought him the best and brightest baby in the
neighborhood, could never have dreamed that the day
would come when her baby boy would stand at the head of
a great nation, and lead three millions of people out of
bondage into freedom.
Here in the wilderness, where there were no churches
and no schools, the boy Abraham lived until he was seven
3 r ears old ; and he learned all about the great wilderness
around him. He knew where the first flowers blossomed
in the spring, where the song-birds built their nests and
reared their little ones ; he learned to shoot with the rifle
almost as well as his father, and could use an axe or hoe
better than many older boys, for he was very large and
strong for his age. But best and greatest of all, he learned
how to read and write ; for his handsome young mother,
although a very busy woman, did not want her children to
grow up as ignorant as were most of the people around
People who knew her at that time said she was very neat
128 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
and tidy, and kept her poor little cabin as clean as a palace.
She spun and wove the wool from their sheep into cloth,
from which she cut and made clothes for her family ; she
could use an axe or hoe as well as her husband, and if a
deer or any other game came near their cabin, she brought
it down with the rifle as easily as he could do it : and when
the deer was killed, she could dress it, cook the flesh for
food, and make clothes from its skin.
But with all this work to do, she still found time to
teach her children. As soon as Abraham could under-
stand what she said to him she began reading stories from
the Bible to him, and while he was still very small, she
taught him to read these stories himselt.
Once a wandering school-master came to their neigh-
borhood, and taught for a few weeks in an empty cabin
near Lincoln's home. The young people for miles around
came to this school, some of them young men grown, but
little Abraham Lincoln, not yet five years old, could read
and spell better than any of them. Those were lonely
years for the little fellow ; no books, no toys, no games, no
playmates, nothing but the great, solitary wilderness around
him, and his parents and little sister Sarah for company.
Not far from the little log cabin where Abraham lived,
in the shade of a group of evergreen trees, was a clear,
cold spring gushing from the limestone rock, and from this
spring a well-beaten path led to the door of the cabin. A
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 129
clear brook ran from the spring and emptied into a creek
not far from the house. No doubt Abraham and his sister
spent many happy hours playing beside the brook or in the
shade of the trees by the spring ; and perhaps their mother
sometimes sat in the shade with them, and read to them
the old, old story, how Moses led the children of Israel
through the wilderness, and how, once, he smote the rock
with his stati' and just such a clear, pure spring burst forth.
The stories his mother read to him from the Bible, and
the lessons she taught him from it, made a deep and lasting
impression upon the little boy ; and as long as he lived, in
all the great speeches he made, quotations from the Book
his mother loved were oftenest upon his lips.
By the time Abraham was seven years old. a
settlement had grown up around their home, and people
began to live more comfortably. But Thomas Lincoln,
thinking Kentucky was no place for a poor man, and pre-
ferring the lonely forest to a settled country, determined to
move his family to Indiana, where he had heard that there
was plenty of fertile land and, what suited him still better,
plenty of game for the hunter. So he started out alone to
see this new country, and traveling afoot through the
dense forest, at last found a spot which pleased him.
Returning home, he borrowed two horses, packed his
wife, children, and all their household goods upon their
backs, and started. It was a long, tiresome journey for
130 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
the mother and her children, but after many days of travel,
they at last reached a small settlement, where they bor-
rowed a wagon, bought some corn meal and bacon for
food, and then with his axe Thomas Lincoln hewed a road
through the wilderness to his new farm, a mile and a half
east of Gentry ville, in a rich and fertile forest country.
Here, with the help of his wife and children, he soon
built a temporary shelter, called a " half-faced camp,''
leaving the south side open to the weather. In front of
the open side, a great fire was kept burning, which was
supposed to warm the interior, but often more cold than
heat came into this miserable shed. Over the fire a great
kettle hung from a chain, and in it corn, beans, bacon or
game was cooked.
Sometimes wild turkeys, geese or ducks were roasted
beside the fire, hanging from a stake, one end of which
was stuck into the ground ; or venison steak was broiled
upon the coals. And sometimes the mother would cook
delicious (f corn dodgers " in a bake-kettle beside the fire,
or the}' would roast potatoes in the hot ashes.
It was a hard life for the little family ; but they lived a
whole year in that poor shed, while Thomas Lincoln was
clearing a little patch of ground for a cornfield, and he wing-
logs for a better cabin. They moved into the new house
before it was finished ; there were no doors, no windows or
floor; but it seemed so comfortable after "the camp," that
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 13]
they were satisfied. They had three-legged stools for
chairs now, instead of blocks of wood, and a great slab of
wood on four legs made a grand table. The bed was still a
platform of poles covered with skins, but Abraham climbed
to the loft by a ladder of wooden pegs driven into the logs,
and slept on a pile of dry leaves covered with furry skins.
He was almost nine years old now, and very large and
strong. He worked at chopping, hoeing, hunting and
trapping every day. An open glade not far from the
cabin was full of deer-licks, and sitting there, hidden by
the bushes, for an hour or two, he was sure to get a shot at
a fine deer which would furnish meat enough for a week.
Some relatives from Kentucky now moved near them,
and occupied the old "camp." and life was not quite so
lonely as it had been during the first year. But in the
autumn of 1818, a terrible disease broke out among the
settlers, called the "Milk sick"; — caused, it was said, by
some poisonous herb which the cattle ate, and thus
poisoned the milk.
In the Lincoln settlement, so ill fed, ill housed and
uncared for, the terrible disease made its appearance and
in a few days two of their number were dead ; and on the
fifth of October, 1818, Nancy Lincoln bade her little ones
good-by, telling little Abraham to remember what she had
taught him, and to be a good boy, and good to his father
and sister. Then, weary and worn with the hardships she
132 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
had endured, she quietly fell asleep never to wake again
Thomas Lincoln made coffins for his dead out of lumber
which he cut with a saw from the timber around him, and
under a great sycamore tree about half a mile from his
home the neighbors helped him lay them to rest.
There was no minister to read God's precious promises,
or to speak words of comfort to the sorrowing family, and
this grieved Abraham very much. He remembered
how his mother loved her Bible, and how much she had
talked to him of its truths and promises, and he deter-
mined to have a funeral service for her.
He remembered a traveling minister whom his mother
had known in Kentucky, named David Elkins, and he
succeeded, several months later, in sending a message to
him asking him to come and preach a funeral sermon for
Slowly the weeks and months passed away ; the trees
were again green and the wild flowers blossoming in the
forest, when the preacher came. He had ridden one hun-
dred miles on horseback, forded swollen rivers, and
followed narrow paths through the wilderness, to comfort
this little boy. He had no hope of reward, and only did
what he thought to be his duty ; he did not dream that the
day would come when a whole nation would honor him
because he did his best to comfort a sorrowing child.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 133
Again the friends and neighbors gathered under the
great sycamore tree, a funeral sermon was preached, sweet
hymns sung, and kneeling beside the lowly mound,
already green with the luxuriant wild grass, the gentle
preacher prayed the Good Father to comfort and care for
these motherless children.
From that time Abraham Lincoln determined to be a
good and noble man. His mother had taught him truth,
honesty, and reverence for God, and he never forgot those
lessons. Years afterward, when he had become a great
man, honored by all his countrymen, he said ; " All that I
am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
The year after his mother's death was the saddest in the
life of Abraham Lincoln. He was ten years old and his
sister Sarah two years older, and together the children
tried to keep house as their mother had done ; but the log
cabin was lonelier, and more cheerless than ever, for the sun-
shine of mother-love had gone out of it forever. Lying
upon his bed of leaves in the loft of the little cabin, with
the stars shining through the crevices between the rough
boards and logs, and sometimes the snow and rain drifting
down upon his rude bed, the little boy must have had
many lonely hours, many sad thoughts.
But through the day he was never idle. When there'
was no work to do, he spent his time reading, or trying
to improve his writing. He borrowed all the books to be
134 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
found in that backwoods settlement, and not only read
them, but learned most of them by heart.
Slowly a year passed away without a mother. Then in
December, 1819, Thomas Lincoln left the two children
with their cousin, Desmis Hanks, to keep house while he
went back to Kentucky on a brief visit. In a few weeks
he returned, driving a four-horse team, and beside him in
the wagon sat a pleasant looking woman, while upon the
straw in the bottom of the wagon, sat a boy and two
little girls. "Abraham and Sarah," said Thomas Lincoln,
"this is your new mother, and your new brother and
The new mother spoke very kindly to the two mother-
less children and when she looked at these poor, forlorn
little ones with their scanty clothing hanging in rags about
them and then turned to her own happy, hearty, well-
clothed children, her heart ached for these neglected ones,
and tears of pity came into her eyes.
It was a fortunate day for the Lincoln family when
Sarah Bush consented to become the wife of Thomas
Lincoln and a mother to his children. Her honest pride
and energy inspired her husband to greater industry.
Door, windows, and floors were at once added to the
house. She dressed the children in warmer clothing, and
made comfortable beds for them to sleep in. She brought
with her six chairs, a table, a bureau, a chest and a feather
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 135
bed and pillows ; luxuries which the Lincoln children had
never known of.
Mrs. Lincoln had a great respect for education, and
whenever a school teacher came that way, she sent all the
children to school. These schools Avere much alike.
They were held in deserted cabins, built of round logs, with
earthern floors, and with small holes cut in the logs and
covered with greased paper, which answered for windows
and let in a little light. The teachers were of the same
quality as the school houses. "Readin, writiir, and
cypherin' to the Rule of Three," this was the extent of
Abraham learned all he could from such teachers, and
besides, read everything he could lay hands on. Even an
old dictionary and the " Revised Statutes of Indiana " he
read as eagerly as boys of to-day read one of Henty's
books. He had no slate and no paper to use, his copy
book being all the paper he owned; but he would sit by
the great fireplace at night, and cover the wooden shovel
with problems and essays, using a coal or a charred stick
for a pencil, then take his jack-knife, shave them off and
beijin over again .
It is pitiful to think of this backwoods boy longing for
an education and eagerly making use of the poorest, rudest
material that could help him obtain it, when we remember
that every child to-day can have all the advantages he
LINCOLN S EARLY HOME
Copyrighted by L. Prang & Co.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 137
longed for, free of cost. All his school days combined
would not exceed one year's time, but he studied and read
every spare moment, and his spare moments were few, for
he was a large, strong boy, and able to do a man's work
much sooner than most young boys.
There were six children in this family, but they all lived
peaceably together under the gentle rule of the good step-
mother, and all of them loved and admired their big
brother "Abe " ; for he was always kind and obliging and
ready to help everyone.
Long years after Abraham Lincoln was dead, his step-
mother said of him : " I can say what scarcely one mother
in a thousand can say, Abe never gave me a cross word or
look, and never refused to do anything I asked him. Abe
was the best boy I ever saw, or expect to see."
Abraham Lincoln was now a young man, tall, strong,
very awkward and very homely. But the honest kindli-
ness of his homely face made it very attractive to those
who knew him well. His great size and strength, (he was
now six feet four inches tall,) made him in demand at log
rollings and house-raisings, while his quaint stories and
ready wit kept all around him laughing.
His first venture into the world for himself was made
the spring after he was twenty-one, when he hired out to a
Mr. Gentry, to go with his son and take a flat-boat, loaded
with produce, to New Orleans. The voyage was success-
138 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
ful and Abraham gained great credit for his management
and sale of the cargo. The next autumn his cousin, John
Hanks, moved to Illinois and was so well pleased with the
country, that he sent messages to his friends to come out
and join him.
Thomas Lincoln was always ready to move. He there-
fore sold out all his possessions, and with his wife, his
sons and their wives, his daughters and their husbands,
started for the new state ; and in the autumn of 1830,
with his tall son Abraham walking beside him, he entered
the state of Illinois, and made that state forever famous as
the home and final resting place of that tall, awkward son,
John Hanks had selected a piece of land for them not far
from his own home, and had logs cut and ready to build a
house. The men of the family soon had a comfortable log
house ready to live in, and then Abraham, with the assist-
ance of John Hanks, plowed fifteen acres for his father,
and from the tall walnut trees of the surrounding forest
split rails enough to build a fence around it.
Little did either of them think of a day that was to come,
when John Hanks, walking into the State convention, with
two of those rails over his shoulders, would rouse the en-
thusiasm of the state, and set the whole country to cheer-
ing for ff Honest Abe Lincoln, the Illinois rail splitter."
It is impossible for us, in these da} T s of railroads,
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 139
steamboats, and electricity, to form any idea of life in
those days when Lincoln was young. There is no place in
the United States now where new settlers would be
obliged to depend so wholly upon their own resources, as
they were in tlje early days of Indiana and Illinois. The
life of those old pioneers was very hard. Only the strong
ones lived, and to most of those old age came early and
was full of pain. Lincoln grew up in the midst of poverty
and ignorance, but he had what few men of that day pos-
sessed, — a strong determination to succeed. He did not
love work, probably, any better than other boys of his
age, but self-respect kept him from idleness, as it kept him
from all other vices, and made him a better man every year
that he lived.
Again in 1831, Abraham Lincoln made a trip to New
Orleans in a flat-boat, and for the first time saw negroes
chained and whipped. He was very sad all the way home,
and formed his opinion of slavery then and there, and
never changed it. But he did not know that his great strong
hand would some da} T loose the chains of slavery forever.
In 1832, the war with the Indians under Black Hawk
broke out, and Abraham Lincoln enlisted and was made
captain of a company of [Mounted Volunteers ; this position
he held for one month, when the company was mustered
out. Then Lincoln re-enlisted as a private in another
company, and served until the closo of the Black Hawk
140 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
War, one month later. He was engaged in no battles and
never wished to be considered a military hero. Speaking
of that experience, many years after, he said: "I saw no
live, fighting Indians, but I had a good man}- struggles
with the mosquitoes."
Soon after his return from the war he became a candi-
date for the Legislature from Sangamon County. He was
on the Whig ticket, but the Democratic party won the
election, and Abraham Lincoln was defeated for the first
and only time by the vote of the people. He was a plain,
honest, sensible man, and Judge Logan, who afterward
took him into his law-office, said of him at that election : —
"He was a very tall, gawky, rough-looking fellow then;
his pantaloons didn't meet his shoes by six inches. But he
made a very honest, sensible speech."
Lincoln now went into partnership with a worthless
fellow named Berry, and bought a stock of goods. They
were obliged to give their notes for the goods as they had
no money. The business did not prosper. Berry died
from the effects of alcohol, the goods were sold, and Lincoln
did not receive a cent of money ; it was many years
before he succeeded in paying off the last of those notes.
In 1834, when twenty-five years old, he again became a
candidate for the Legislature, and this time was elected.
This election may be said to have closed the pioneer
period of Abraham Lincoln's life.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 141
He was done with the wild, careless life of the woods-
man and boat-hand ; there was no more running, jumping,
and wrestling with the loafing crowd around the grocery
store, no more odd jobs for daily bread, no more rude,
squalid poverty. He was still, and for many years con-
tinued to be a very poor man, but from this time he
associated with a better class of men than he had ever
known before, and a new feeling of self-respect, a stronger
desire for improvement, grew up in his mind.
He also met in the Legislature, for the first time,
Stephen A. Douglas, whose name in after years was to be
so closely connected with his own ; but who now paid little
attention to the raw, awkward youth from Sangamon
In 1836, he was re-elected to the Legislature and the
day before it adjourned, Lincoln and Stone, the two
Representatives from the Sangamon, entered a protest
against slavery. At that time to be an Abolitionist was
considered almost the greatest of crimes, but he did this,
as he did everything in his life, because he thought it
right and with no thought of its effect upon his own
While a member of this Legislature, Lincoln and his
friends succeeded in having a law passed changing the
capital of Illinois from Vandal ia to Springfield, as the
latter town was much nearer the center of the state and
142 ABRRHAM LINCOLN.
had greater conveniences for a capital. The people of
Springfield were so pleased over this that they urged
Lincoln to make his home there.
He had been studying law all these years, while keeping
store and while engaged in politics, and now an old
lawyer, John T. Stuart, who had a good practice in
Springfield, offered to take him into partnership. Lincoln
accepted this offer, moved to Springfield in 1837, and from
that time this city became his home.
In 1838, he was sent to the Legislature from his district,
and again in 1840. That was the year in which General
William Henry Harrison was elected President of the
L T nited States. The presidential campaign was one of the
most exciting ever known in our country. General Harri-
son had been a poor man, and had lived in a log-cabin.
His opponents sneered at his poverty, but the Whigs
gloried in their "log-cabin candidate," and wherever
political meetings were held, a log cabin was built. Upon
one side of the door a long-handled gourd was lmn<> - with a
barrel of cider upon the ground beneath it. Upon the
other side of the door a coon-skin was nailed upon the
logs. In every little village stump-speeches were made
and campaign songs sung. General Harrison had been
very successful in a campaign against the Indians many
years before, and at a battle at Tippecanoe creek had
wholly defeated them. From this victory he won the title
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. I43
of "Old Tippecanoe," and the whole country echoed with
songs and cheers for " Tippecanoe and Tyler too."
Abraham Lincoln worked with all his energy for General
Harrison. Remembering his own log-cabin home, and the
poverty and privation of his boyhood, his heart was full of
sympathy for the man who could rise above such poor sur-
roundings. He traveled through the state making stump-
speeches, and in many places met Stephen A. Douglas in
public debates. Both these men were so shrewd, so
eloquent, so well-informed, that those who heard them
could not decide which was the greater orator. The
Whigs won the election, General Harrison became presi-
dent, and Abraham Lincoln returned to his law practice.
In 1842, when he was thirty-three years old, Abraham
Lincoln was married to Miss Mary Todd, a young lady
from Kentucky who was visiting in Springfield. For some
time after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln boarded at
a hotel called the Globe House, but, in 1844, Lincoln built
a comfortable frame house for himself, in which the family
lived seventeen years and from which they moved to the
White House in Washington.
The next few years of Lincoln's life were much like those
of any successful lawyer in a new state. He had a large
practice, but small fees, and his income did not exceed two
thousand dollars a year.
In 1837, he was chosen by the people of his district as
144 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
their representative in Congress. He was then thirty-nine
years old, and the only Whig in Congress from the State
of Illinois. There were many famous men in that Con-
gress. Stephen A. Douglas was one of the senators from
Illinois, Daniel Webster was there, so was John C. Cal-
houn, and so was Jefferson Davis. Lincoln made several
speeches during his term of office, but the most important
thing he did was to introduce a bill for the abolition of the
slave trade in the City of Washington, which was so bitterly
opposed that it was never even voted upon.
Thus the busy years passed by, and meanwhile a dark
cloud was gathering over the nation. It arose when slaves
were first brought into Virginia in 1619, and it grew wider
and darker every year. The wealth and political strength
of the nation was in the South where, on the great planta-
tions of cotton, tobacco and sugar-cane, thousands of slaves
As the wealth of the South increased, they sought new
lands and broader plantations, and the people of the North
saw slavery spreading farther every year. Efforts were
made to limit the slave trade, and the Missouri Com-
promise, the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, the Dred Scott
decision were measures adopted to pacify the demands of
the South for more slave territory, or to limit its extension.
But all this was of no avail. History will tell you of
many causes for the ill-feeling which existed between the
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 1 J")
North and South, but all had their origin in the slave
question. Every election it became the subject of argu-
ment, debate and dispute, and every year the dissatisfac-
Again and again Abraham Lincoln met Stephen A.
Douglas in debate, and every debate found Lincoln's argu-
ments for Freedom and Justice stronger and clearer. His
peculiar power of seizing the most difficult subject and
presenting it in such simple, homely words as to make its
truth appear to all men, made him a natural leader of the
people, and the hard, rude training of his early years had
but deepened the sympathies of his kindly heart for all
sorrow and suffering.
"The uncleared forest, the unbroken soil,
The iron bark that turns the lumberer's axe,
The rapid that o'erbears the boatman's toil,
The prairie hiding the mazed wanderer's tracks.
"The ambushed Indian, and the prowling bear : —
Such were the needs that helped his youth to train.
Rough culture — but such trees large fruit may bear,
If but their stalks be of the right girth and grain."
In 1856, a new political party was organized. A party
calling themselves "Free Soilers," opposed to the extension
of slavery, had arisen ; these, uniting with most of the
Whigs and some Democrats, formed the Republican party.
116 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
At a convention held in June, 1856, this party nominated
John C. Fremont for president, but they were not strong
enough to elect their candidate, and James Buchanan was
Abraham Lincoln worked bravely for the new party and
the debates between him and Stephen A. Douglas were
listened to by multitudes of people. These debates were
afterwards printed in a book and people all over the
country read them. Everyone knew Douglas — he was a
famous orator — but now everyone was asking, " Who is
this man, this awkward Westerner, who can silence
Douglas, the 'Little Giant'?" And the people of Illinois
answered proudly, "It is honest Abe Lincoln."' So the
name of " Honest Abe " became as widely known as
that of the " Little Giant," and people also learned that
" Honest Abe " was ever the champion of Freedom and
In 1860, there was another presidential campaign. The
Democratic party divided and nominated two candidates ;
the new Republican party nominated Abraham Lincoln,
and at the November election he was chosen President of
the United States. He was now fifty-two years old. All
his life he had worked hard and been burdened with many
cares, but he now took the hardest work he had ever done,
the heaviest burden he had ever borne.
The South was very angry over the election. "The
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 147
black Republicans," they said, " will not only prevent the
extension of slavery, but they will deprive us of our slaves
and rob us of our wealth ; " and in the December following,
South Carolina seceded from the Union and declared
her right to an independent government. Six other
states followed her example, and uniting they formed a
new government, calling themselves "The Confederate
States of America," and electing Jefferson Davis their
Some said Abraham Lincoln should never reach Wash-
ington alive, and a plot was laid to kill him as he passed
through Baltimore, but taking an earlier train than they
expected, he reached Washington safely.
In his Inaugural Address, the fourth of March, 1861,
President Lincoln said, "In your hands, my dissatisfied
countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of
civil war. Your Government will not assail you. You
can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggres-
sors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy
the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to
protect and defend it."
The Confederates now demanded that the Government
give up to them all forts, arsenals and public property
within their limits ; but this Lincoln refused to do and he
would not admit their right to withdraw from the Union
without the consent of all the states. So in April, 1861,
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 14'.)
the Confederate guns were turned upon Fort Sumter, in
Charleston Harbor, and the awful Civil War began.
The next four years of President Lincoln's life were
very hard. The fate of the nation seemed to lie in his
hands. Around him were the horrors of war, all the
sadness of death and desolation, all the sorrow and
agony of those who mourned for the lives sacrificed
for Freedom and Union. Envious tongues blamed and
censured him ; treacherous friends sought to betray him ;
but with the straightforwardness of truth, he passed
unharmed through all dangers. But the homely, rugged
face showed new lines of care and sorrow ; the kind
eyes grew more tender and pitiful, and the great heart
was often heavy and sad with the burden it carried.
He was urged to free the slaves, but he hesitated for
some time, saying that his "first object was to save the
Union, and neither to save nor destroy slavery. If I could
save the Union without freeing the slaves, I would do it.
If I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone,
I would also do that."
But at last he saw that the success of the Union Army
depended on freeing the slaves, as then there would be no
one to work in the corn and cotton fields, and the army of
the South would soon be without supplies. So upon the
first day of January, 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed
that all slaves in all states or parts of states then in rebel-
150 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
lion against the Union, should be free, and thus did the
strong hand of an honest man loosen the chains that held
three million people in bondage.
But still the war went on. There were great generals
and brave soldiers on both sides. Each thought their
cause just and right, and each fought with a courage and
determination never known in any war before.
In July, 1863, came the terrible battle of Gettysburg,
where over fifty thousand brave men, wearing the blue and
the gray, laid down their lives. After three days of battle
the Union Army was victorious and from this defeat the
Confederate cause never recovered. Little by little the
Northern army now advanced, and it was but a question of
time until their victory should be complete.
In November, 1864, Abraham Lincoln was elected
President for the second time. Still the war went on, but
now the Union soldiers were everywhere victorious, and
the end was near. Upon March 4, 1865, President Lincoln
made his second inaugural address. He made no boast of
what he had accomplished, nor did he rejoice over the
defeat of the enemies of the Government ; but in this
address he said: "With malice toward none, with charity
toward all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to
see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in ;
to bind up the nation's wounds ; to care for him who shall
have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans ;
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 151
to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting
peace among- ourselves and with all nations."
Five weeks after that address was made, on the ninth
of April, 1865, General Grant met General Lee at
Appomatox Court House, the Confederate army surren-
dered, and after four years of bloodshed, devastation and
sorrow, the Civil War in the United States was ended.
Abraham Lincoln's work was finished. The Union was
saved, the slave was free, and the weary brain that had so
faithfully watched and so wisely planned, the aching head
that had throbbed with pain over the sorrows of the Nation,
could rest and rejoice in the knowledge of a noble work
The fourteenth of April was Good Friday. On the
evening of that day President Lincoln, with Mrs. Lincoln
and a party of friends, visited Ford's theatre in Washing-
ton. A few minutes after ten o'clock, a young man
entered the box where the President and his party were
sitting. No one noticed him ; all were watching the actors
upon the stage. His name was John Wilkes Booth and he
was a young actor of considerable fame. The President
was leaning slightly forward, with a smile upon his kindly
face, when suddenly the young actor stepped forward,
placed a pistol against the President's head, and fired ;
then waving the pistol he shouted the motto of the State of
Virginia, " Sic semper tyrannis" (so perish all tyrants),
152 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
and sprang from the box to the stage. Catching his foot
in a large flag which had been draped across the President's
box, he fell heavily upon the stage, breaking his leg by
the fall. He sprang up again, and escaped to the street,
where his horse was waiting for him, and rode away into
the night, only to wander with the stain of murder upon
his soul, with a price set upon his head, suffering terribly
with his broken limb, until, after ten days of anxiety,
hiding daily in some new place, he was hunted down and
met his death in a burning barn.
President Lincoln never moved after the assassin's
bullet struck him. He saw nothing, heard nothing, felt
nothing. Kind arms lifted and bore him to the house of a
friend near the theatre. His son was summoned, and with
Mrs. Lincoln watched beside his bed. Around him gath-
ered the members of his cabinet — those men who had
stood beside him and aided him with sympathy and counsel
during those long, sad years. All through the night he
breathed, but when the morning came, and when the warm
southern sunlight shone upon the sorrowing city, a look of
unspeakable peace and rest came over the worn, tired face,
and at twenty minutes after seven, on the morning of the
fifteenth of April, the great, kindly heart ceased to beat
and Abraham Lincoln was at rest.
The news of the assassination shocked the whole nation.
Everywhere business was suspended and the people
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 153
mourned the untimely end of their hero, while from all
over the world came messages of sorrow and sympathy.
Then all that was earthly of Abraham Lincoln was tenderly
borne hack over the same route he had traveled, when in
1861, he left his humble home in Springfield to take his
place at the head of the nation. In a beautiful spot in the
suburbs of the town wdiere most of his life had been spent,
and where he had risen from the humblest rank in life to
the highest, his body was laid to rest. In 1S74, a beauti-
ful monument was erected over his grave. Among the
words of tribute spoken to his memory that day, General
Grant said: "To know him personall}' was to love and
respect him for his great qualities of heart and head. In
his death the nation lost its greatest hero. In his death
the South lost its most just friend."
" So ended in darkness, but not in shame, the career of
Abraham Lincoln. He was prudent, far-sighted and reso-
lute ; thoughtful, calm and just ; patient, tender-hearted
and great. From city to city, in one vast funeral proces-
sion, the mourning people followed his remains to their
last resting place at Springfield. From all nations rose
the voice of sympathy and shame — sympathy for his
death, shame for the black crime that caused it."
The newspapers of England had always censured
Abraham Lincoln. They had caricatured his homely face
154 ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
and awkward, ungainly form. They had sneered at his
lowly origin, and with unkindly words criticised his wisest
acts. After his death, the London Punch, which had been
most bitter in its attacks upon him, published the
following poem, with humble acknowledgement of their
Yon lay a wreath on murdered Lincoln's bier,
You, who with mocking pencil wont to trace,
Broad for the self-complacent British sneer,
His length of shambling limb, his furrowed face,
His gaunt, gnarled hands, his unkempt, bristling hair,
His garb uncouth, his bearing ill at ease,
His lack of all we prize as debonair.
Of power or will to shine, or art to please ;
You, whose smart pen backed up the pencil's laugh,
Judging each step as though the way were plain,
Reckless, so it could point its paragraph
Of chiefs perplexity, or people's pain :
Beside this corpse, that bears for winding-sheet
The Stars and Stripes he lived to rear anew,
Between the mourners at his head and feet,
Say, scurrile jester, is there room for you?
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 15,",
Yes ; he had lived to shame me from my sneer,
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen ;
To make me own this kind of prince's peer,
This rail-splitter, a true born king of men.
He went about his work, — such work as few
Ever had laid on head and heart and hand, —
As one who knows, where there's a task to do,
Man's honest will must Heaven's good grace
So he went forth to battle, on the side
That he felt clear was Liberty's and Right's,
As in his peasant boyhood he had plied
His warfare with rude Nature's thwarting might.
So he grew up a destined work to do,
And lived to do it ; four long-suffering years,
Ill-fate, ill-feeling, ill-report, lived through,
And then he heard the hisses change to cheers,
The taunts to tribute, the abuse to praise,
And took both with the same unwavering mood ;
Till, as he came on light, from darkling days,
And seemed to touch the goal from where he stood,
A felon hand, between the goal and him,
Reached from behind his back, a trigger prest,
And those perplexed and patient eyes were dim,
Those gaunt, long-laboring limbs were laid to rest !
The words of mercy were upon his lips,
Forgiveness in his heart and on his pen,
When this vile murderer brought swift eclipse
To thoughts of peace on earth, good will to men.
The Old World and the New, from sea to sea,
Utter one voice of sympathy and shame :
Sore heart, so stopped when it at last beat high ;
Sad life, cut short just as its triumph came.
Among all the great men whose names are written upon
the pages of history, there are very few who said as little,
and accomplished so much, as Ulysses S. Grant.
Descendant of a hardy Scotch race, from Aberdeenshire,
Scotland, he inherited from his ancestors a strong love of
freedom and the courage and determination to win it at
any cost. Indeed, his whole life and character seems best
expressed in the motto of his clan : " Stand fast, stand firm,
stand sure." His great-grandfather was a Captain in the
old French and English War, and was killed in battle in
1756. His grandfather left his farm in Connecticut at the
first rumor of the Revolution, and appeared on the field of
Lexington, on that morning in April when the brave
farmers f ' fired the shot heard round the world."
At the close of the War of Independence his grand-
father emigrated to Pennsylvania, and there, in 1794,
Jesse R. Grant, the father of Ulysses, was born. At an
early age he was sent to learn the tanner's trade. When
he became a man, he moved to Point Pleasant, Ohio, and
commenced business for himself as a tanner.
Here, in 1821, he was married to Miss Hannah Simpson,
160 GENERAL GRANT.
and here, too, during the first year of their married life,
their oldest child, Ulysses, was born. Me was christened
"Hiram Ulysses." His grandfather named him Hiram
and his grandmother, who 'loved to read history and
greatly admired the ancient hero Ulysses, gave him the
latter name. When the boy was old enough to attend
school, he changed the order of his name, writing it
"Ulysses Hiram," because the boys and, perhaps, the
girls also laughed at his initials, H. U. G.
When Ulysses became a cadet at West Point, the
Member of Congress who made out his appointment
wrote his initials U. S. Grant. Grant tried many times
to have the mistake corrected ; but this is one of the
few things in which he failed, and to the end of his
life he bore the initials of his native land, his foster-
mother, whose military child he became. He therefore
took his mother's maiden name, and wrote it Ulysses
Simpson Grant ; but among his chums at the Military
Academy he was always called " United States Grant,''
"Uncle Sam Grant" or plain " Sam Grant."
Like most great men, Ulysses Grant had an excellent
mother. She was a pious, cheerful, contented woman ;
caring little for the outside world, but devoted to her
children and looking well after the ways of her household.
Under her loving care Ulysses grew up strong and healthy,
brave, truthful and self-reliant.
GENERAL GRANT. 1G1
Although never a very brilliant scholar, yet he was not
at all stupid. He was simply a quiet, well-behaved, every-
day sort of boy, who attended school during the winter
months, learning his lessons well and always ready for
play also. He never liked working in the tannery with
his father and used to say that he would be a farmer or
a trader down the river, but a tanner he would never be.
Had any one told him then that, at some future day, great
masses of men all over the country would be proudly
marching to music, carrying torch-lights, wearing leather
aprons, and calling themselves "Tanners" in honor of
U. S. Grant, the tanner's son, he would have thought it
a wild dream.
While Ulysses was still a small boy, he was noted for
his perseverance. If he undertook a thing, he would not
give up for small difficulties, but kept trying until he suc-
ceeded in accomplishing his purpose.
He was very fond of horses and learned to ride and
drive when very young. The story is told of him, that
when only seven years old he harnessed a colt to a small
sled, and drew brush from the woods until he had a pile
nearly as large as the house. When only ten years old,
he used to drive a span of horses from Georgetown, where
his father lived, to Cincinnati, forty miles away, and
bring back a load of passengers.
If a circus or a show came to the town, and there was
162 GENERAL GRANT.
a call for some boy to come forward and ride a pony,
Ulysses was always ready ; and whatever he undertook to
ride, he always succeeded in doing it. Once a circus came
to his town, in which there was a very mischievous pony,
trained to run swiftly round and round the rin^ and
throw oft' the boy who tried to ride him. " Will any boy
come forward and ride this pony?" shouted the ring-
master. Ulysses immediately stepped forward, mounted
the pony, and away they went. Bound and round and
round the ring they flew, faster and faster ran the pony,
making every effort to throw his rider ; but Ulysses sat
as steadily as if he had grown to the pony's back.
Presently out came a large monkey and sprang up behind
the boy. Then how the people laughed and cheered, but
all this made no difference to the small rider. Then the
ring-master made the monkey jump up on Ulysses'
shoulders and hold on to his hair, while the pony ran
faster and faster. The people cheered and shouted, yet
the boy never smiled nor trembled, but sat as steadily as
though carved in stone. At last the pony began to grow
tired, and the ring-master gave up the attempt. He had
found one boy whom the pony and monkey combined
could not throw.
When Ulysses was twelve years old his father sent him
to a neighbor's house to make a bargain for a horse he
wished to purchase. "Now, Ulysses," said his father, "you
GENERAL GRANT. Ifi3
may tell Mr. Ralston that I have sent you to buy the horse
and that I will give him fifty dollars for it. If he will not
take that, you may offer him fifty-five and I should be
willing to go as high as sixty rather than not get the horse."
As soon as Ulysses reached the house and began to talk
of buying the horse, Mr. Ralston asked: "How much did
your father say you might pay for the horse?" The boy
did not know how to prevaricate and answered honestly :
"Father told me to offer you fifty dollars at first; if that
would not do, to give you fifty-five, and that he would be
willing to give sixty rather than not have the horse." Of
course Mr. Ralston said then that he could not think of
taking less than sixty dollars for the horse. "I am sorry
for that," said Ulysses, " for on looking at the horse I have
decided not to give over fifty for it, although father did
say I might give sixty ; you may take fifty dollars if you
like, or you may keep the horse." Mr. Ralston took the
fifty dollars and Ulysses rode the horse home.
Mr. Grant had a great deal of confidence in his son's
ability to do business and to take care of himself. When
he was only twelve years old his father wished to obtain
some legal papers from Louisville, Kentucky, to be used
in a lawsuit in which he was engaged. He had written to
lawyers there but could not get the business done, nor
could he leave home at that time to attend to it himself.
"I can do it for you, father," said Ulysses. So his father
164 GENERAL GRANT.
sent him on the errand alone. It was a long journey for
a child, but he returned with the necessary papers, with-
It is said that "the child is father of the man," and the
same courage and self-reliance which enabled the twelve
year old boy to take such a journey and accomplish such a
matter successfully, in later years enabled him to command
great armies and to stand at the head of a great nation.
Meanwhile Ulysses was very anxious to obtain a good
education. He wished to go to college, but his father,
who was not a rich man, was not able to gratify his wish
since he had several younger children to care for and
educate. But the boy was not easily discouraged. He
thought very earnestly about the matter, and at last
decided to try for an appointment to West Point Mili-
tary Academy. If he succeeded, he would be cared for,
educated, and receive, besides, a small sum of money
which would more than pay all his other expenses as a
student. In the year 1839, his father secured for him,
through the influence of the Member of Congress from their
district, an appointment as a cadet at West Point.
GRANT AT WEST POINT.
To be a West Point cadet was considered a great honor
sixty years ago. It meant a good education and an honor-
able position under the Government afterwards. It was
GENERAL GRANT. 165
also supposed that only the most brilliant and talented
young men of the United States were sent there ; and
there is a story told in Georgetown, where the Grant
family were living at the time, that the news of Ulysses
Grant's appointment was a great surprise to their neigh-
bors. One man, meeting Jesse Grant on the street, said :
"I hear Ulysses is appointed to West Point. Is that so?"'
'Yes, sir.*' "Well, that's a nice job. Why didn't they
appoint a boy that would be a credit to the district?'' It
would be interesting to know what that neighbor thought,
when later years proved how much credit "that boy" was
to the district.
Ulysses Grant was at that time, a quiet, home-loving boy
who cared nothing for a military life. The stories of his
grandfather's battles and marches had little interest for
him. He cared more for horses than for guns, and far
more for the circus that occasionally came to town, than
for "training day," or "general muster" of the country
militia. He was a strong, healthy boy, fond of out-door
play, skating, boating, ball-playing, and especially horse-
back-riding. He was not ashamed to help about the
house, either, and at one place where he boarded while
attending the village Academy he taught the cook how to
make buckwheat cakes, and took his turn at baking them
Into this quiet home life came the appointment to West
166 GENERAL GRANT.
Point. It was a beautiful day in May, when, with his
home-made clothes packed in a new trunk, with the initials
U. H. G. in big brass tacks on the cover, he bade good-
bye to home and old friends and started on his journey.
The initials on the new trunk had been H. U. G. at first,
but when Ulysses saw them he said: "I will not have
them like that ; they spell hug, and all the boys will laugh
at them." So the order was changed. Then the boy
went from home into the world.
It was a long journey from Georgetown to West Point
in those days ; first by boat to Pittsburg, then by stage
and canal to Philadelphia, and thence by steamboat to
West Point. The first year of a cadet's life at AVest Point
is usually a very unpleasant one ; but Grant was such a
quiet, obliging boy and so small of his age, that the boys
were ashamed to tease and annoy him as they did some of
the new-comers. When Ulysses arrived and reported to
the adjutant, he paid his entrance charges — forty-eight
dollars — out of money he had earned by driving a team
and by doing work upon the farm. He was very proud
of this fact and it was something a boy of seventeen might
well be proud of; for most boys of that age find it hard
to save money, even if they earn it.
Ulysses was now sent to the Quartermaster to receive
his outfit, two blankets, a pillow, water pail, broom, chair,
etc., and he was required to carry all these articles to
GENERAL GRANT. 167
his room, strung on the handle of the broom. Past the
officers' quarters he marched, past the crowd of howling
cadets, while every one of them sang out "Hello plebe,
how do you like it?" Then he was taught just how and
where to place all these things, for there is a certain place
for everything in a cadet's room, and if he leaves any
thing out of place, a row of " black marks" is sure to stand
opposite his name. Perfect neatness, perfect order, and
punctuality are iron-clad rules at West Point. Ulysses
was rather a slow boy and sometimes received "black
marks" for being late ; " late at church," "late at parade,"
"late at drill" are some of the marks against him, on the
old record at West Point. But there are no black marks
for bad conduct; and if the boy was sometimes "slow"
at school, the man was never "slow" in winning great
victories or driving back an invading army.
He was a good boy here as he had been at home. " It
was impossible to quarrel with Grant," said one who
roomed with him for a year, "we never had a spat, I
never knew him to light." He thoroughly enjoyed the
beautiful scenery around West Point, and wrote often to
his friends about the places he had seen. To one cousin
he wrote : "I have put away my Algebra and French, and
am going to tell you about this prettiest of all places,
West Point. It is the place of all places for an institution
like this. Here is the house Washington used to live in,
168 GENERAL GRANT.
there Kosciusko used to walk up and down, thinking of
his country and ours ; over the river is the house of Arnold,
that base and heartless traitor to his country and his God.
I do love the place. It seems as though I could live here
forever if my friends would only come, too. I mean to
study hard and stay if it be possible. I have now been
here four months, and have not seen a single familiar face,
or spoken to a single lady. I wish some of the pretty
girls of Bethel were here, just so I might look at them ; —
but I have seen great men, plenty of them, General Scott,
Mr. Van Buren, Washington Irving, and lots of other big
folks. If I were to come home now you would laugh at
my appearance. My coat must always be buttoned up to
my chin. It is made of sheeps-gray cloth, covered with big
round buttons. If you were to see me at a distance, the
first question you would ask, would be, f Is that a fish or
an animal?' Remember me to Grandmother Simpson; I
think often of her. I want you to show her this letter,
and all others I may write you."
These simple home messages show us the heart of the
boy; and the man was very like him. Home, wife,
children and friends ; these were dearer to him than fame
and the applause of the world. He never wished to be a
soldier. His ambition was to be a professor of Mathe-
matics in some college, with salary enough to make a
little home for wife and babies of his own.
GENERAL GRANT. 1G9
Ulysses remained two years at school and then went
home on a furlough. How proud his father and mother
were of their tall, straight soldier boy. His father gave
him a fine colt to ride, and every day he rode over to
Georgetown to see the boys and ffirls whom he had
known before going to West Point. And how all the
old neighbors talked about him. The\ 7 admitted that he
"might make a decent mark for muskets, after all." So
in riding and walking with the girls and playing games
with the boys, the furlough passed quickly, and the boy
returned to school and study. He was homesick for
awhile and the routine of cadet life seemed dull and slow
after the gay vacation ; but this feeling soon wore oft' and
school life again interested him.
Of this life an old cadet once said : " It had its beautiful
side. The shaven green of the lawn, the gleam of white
tents, the crash of horn and cymbals, the clamor and
squeal of drum and fife, the boom of the sunset gun, the
rumble and jar of wheeling artillery, all these sounds and
pictures came to be keen pleasures, to divide and brighten
the dull gray hours of hard study. Every morning in
autumn, while the maples turned from green to scarlet
and gold, the cavalry wheeled over the parade ground.
The call of the bugles, the thrilling commands, the reel
of the horses, the splendid voices of the commanders,
the drumming of hoofs, the swift swing into perfect
170 GENERAL GRANT.
alignment, all these things helped him forget his home-
At our cavalry drill, riding his powerful chestnut horse
"York," the slender young Cadet Grant galloped swiftly
down the long riding-hall. At the farther end he turned
at the riding master's command, and came into the straight
stretch across which the leaping-bar had been placed higher
than a man's head. The great horse increased his pace and
measured his strides for the great leap before him, then
bounded into the air and cleared the bar, carrying his rider
as if man and beast were one. This great leap, it is said,
has never been surpassed ; but when questioned about it,
General Grant would smile and say: " Yes, York was a
wonderfully good horse." Others thought Ulysses Grant
was a wonderfully good rider.
Thus the four years passed swiftly and now came the
final examination and then the commissions which made
the young cadets officers in the Regular Army of the
United States. More, than a hundred had entered the
class with Ulysses Grant, but one by one they had
dropped out until only thirty-nine remained. Ulysses
Grant graduated twenty-first on the list, with a good
average record as a student and a very high record as a
man. Of the other members of the class, fifteen served
with him through the Civil War, four gave up their lives
in the war with Mexico, and six joined the Confederate
GENERAL GRANT. 171
Army : but of" them all, Ulysses Grant rose highest in
military rank, was best known to the world and received
the highest honors.
GRANT AS A SOLDIER.
Now at length school life, with its hours of work and
study and its hours of boyish pranks and fun, was past;
the days of summer encampments and sham battles with
a company of classmates, of storming imaginary forts,
and building mimic fortifications ; all the old duties and
pleasures were to be left behind, and life — real, earnest
life — began.
Uncle Sam had educated and trained his adopted sons
in the art of war, and now they were to put into practical
every-day use, the lessons they had learned. On leaving
West Point Ulysses Grant was made a second lieutenant
in the 4th U. S. Infantry and stationed on the Missouri
frontier, where the Indians were then disturbing the
settlers. Here he remained two years, and in 1845 was
ordered to Texas where the United States troops were
gathering under General Taylor for the war with Mexico.
For two years Lieutenant Grant served in the Mexican
war. He was made Regimental Quartermaster, a respon-
sible and important position, and this office he held during
the war. Now, it is customary for the Quartermaster of
a regiment to remain behind with the supply trains during
172 GENERAL GRANT.
a battle, but it was quite impossible for Quartermaster
Grant to do that. If there was a battle he was sure to be
in it ; leaving his supply trains in care of some one else,
he would join his regiment and share the fighting.
At the battle of Molino del liey, fought September 8th,
1847, Grant fought so bravely and with such gallantry
that he was made first lieutenant, his commission to date
from the day of the battle. In the fierce battle of Chapul-
tepec, on the 13th of September, when that frowning castle
was stormed by the American soldiers, Lieutenant Grant
won the admiration of his superior officers by his bravery
and the wisdom of his tactics while under the enemy's fire.
Several officers spoke of- his "brave fighting,"" his "distin-
guished gallantry," and "noble conduct" during this, the
last great battle of the Mexican war, and he was rewarded
by receiving the rank of Captain.
After peace was declared, in 1848, Captain Grant was
ordered to New York with his company and during this
year he was married to Miss Julia Dent, the sister of
one of his classmates at West Point.
A few days after peace was declared with Mexico, a
great event occurred. Gold was discovered in California,
and early in 1849 crowds of emigrants rushed to the new
land, to make their fortune. Many reckless, lawless men
were among them, and the Indians, provoked by the usual
injustice of the white man, retaliated savagely. This
GENERAL GRANT. 173
made it necessary to send more U. S. troops to the West,
and the battalion to which Captain Grant's company was
attached was sent to Fort Dallas, Oregon. Here he
remained two years ; then, finding: that lite in a garrison
in that lonely, almost uninhabited region offered few
opportunities of usefulness, he decided to resign his com-
mission. This he did on July 31st, 1854, and returning
to his home and family, commenced life as a private citizen
on a small farm near St. Louis.
In the year 1859, he moved to Galena, Illinois, and
went into partnership with his brother in the leather trade,
where they soon built up a prosperous business. Here,
with his little family around him, he spent the quietest
and, perhaps, the happiest years of his eventful life.
GENERAL GRANT THE COMMANDER.
The autumn of 1860 and the winter of 1861 were times
of trial and anxiety to the American Nation. The
Southern States became dissatisfied with the General
Government and declared their right to secede from the
Union and establish a separate government. Many causes
had led to this act, which was bitterly opposed by the
North; but by February 1st, 1861, six states had with-
drawn from the Union, and on February 4th delegates
from these states met at Montgomery, Alabama, and
formed a new Government under the name of "The
174 GENERAL GRANT.
Confederate States of America." Fort Sumter, near
Charleston, South Carolina, refused to surrender to the
Confederate authorities, and upon the morning of April
11th, 1861, the first gun of the Civil War was fired from
Confederate batteries at this fort. For thirty-six hours
the terrible bombardment continued, and only when the
fort was in ruins and on fire, did Major Anderson and
his brave little band surrender.
Ulysses Grant was quietly living in Galena, engaged in
business, when the news of that terrible 12th of April
flashed over the wires, and the sound of that first battle
at Fort Sumter echoed to the farthest boundary of the
Union, rousing every earnest, loyal soul to action. Grant
felt the dishonor to his country, the insult to his flag, in
the utmost depths of his heart, and his brave spirit
responded quickly to the Nation's cry for assistance. To
a friend he said : " The Government educated me for the
Arm}'. What I am, I owe to my country, I have served
her through one war, and live or die, I will serve her
through this." He at once offered his services to the
Governor of Illinois ; but the quiet, unassuming man,
dressed in common citizen's clothes, received little notice
among the eager throng seeking for position and fame.
Never pushing himself into notice, never boasting of what
he had done or could do, he waited patiently, ready to
serve in the humblest position where duty placed him.
GENERAL GRANT. 175
At last his ability and worth were recognized, and he was
• made Adjutant-General of the State. Soon after this, he
was chosen Colonel of an Illinois regiment, at once accepted
the position, and quickly made his regiment one of the
best in the Volunteer service. On the 31st of July, 1861,
he was placed in command of a body of troops in Missouri,
and one month later was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-
General and placed in command of an important post at
In politics General Grant had always been a Democrat.
When the war broke out, he wrote a letter to his father-in-
law, also a Democrat, in which he says : "Now is the time
for men to prove their love of country. All party distinc-
tions should be lost sight of, and every true patriot be for
maintaining the integrity of the glorious old Stars and
Stripes, the Constitution, and the Union. I have just
received a letter from Fred (Frederick Dent, his brother-
in-law), he is for the old flag as long as there is a Union
of two States lighting under its banner, and when they
dissolve, he will go it alone." These words show General
Grant's devotion to his country, and his determination to
serve her to the best of his ability in this, her hour of peril.
Kentucky had not seceded, but there were many of her
inhabitants whose sympathies were with the South, and
the Confederate Army had several important positions in
the southern part of the state. From his post at Cairo
General Grant was sent to drive the Confederate troops
from Kentucky. This he proceeded to do at once, captur-
ing Fort Henry on the Tennessee River, and soon, after.
Fort Donaldson on the Cumberland. The capture of Fort
Donaldson was the first decided victory of the Union
Army. General Buckner, the Confederate Commander,
sent General Grant a message, asking that a commission
be appointed to arrange the terms of capitulation. To
this proposal General Grant replied :
"General S. B. Buckxer,
Yours of this date proposing an armistice,
and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capit-
ulation just received. No terms other than an immediate
and unconditional surrender can be accepted. I propose
to move immediately upon your works.
U. S. Grant, Brig.-Gen., U. S. A."
It is needless to say that General Grant's terms were
accepted, and the surrrender was tr immediate and uncon-
ditional." This victory won for General Grant the name,
" Unconditional Surrender Grant," a title which he proved
his right to hold manv times before the war ended.
After the capture of Fort Donaldson, General Grant
was again promoted. He was now Major-General of
Volunteers, and did not remain idle because he had now
new laurels, Slowly but surely he drove the Confederate
Army southward. Battle after battle he fought, some-
GENERAL GRANT. 177
times winning, sometimes driven back, but always regain-
ing lost ground and slowly advancing. Pittsburg: Landing,
Shiloh, Iuka and Corinth ! Victories bravely won ; ground
hallowed by the graves of thousands of brave men who
gave their lives willingly for the old Flag and the Union.
And others just as brave were fighting earnestly at the
call of their native States.
"Under the sod and dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day,
Under the one, the Bine,
Under the other, the Gray.
After these victories General Grant moved toward Vicks-
burg. All the skill of the Confederacy had been emplo} r ed
to make this their Gibraltar. Three times the Federals
had endeavored to capture this stronghold, and three times
they had failed. After capturing New Orleans, brave old
Commodore Farragut had steamed up the river with his
gunboats, intending to storm this citadel, but was obliged
to sail back again without accomplishing anything ; yet as
long as the Confederacy controlled the lower Mississippi
there was little hope of conquering them. Their Generals
and Statesmen saw the importance of holding Vicksburg as
plainly as the Federals saw the necessity of capturing it,
and strengthened their fortification accordingly ; but early
in 18(33, General Grant determined that since it could
not be captured by river or by land alone, he would
178 GENERAL GRANT.
combine the two modes of attack and try what could be
History will tell you of that wonderful advance to Vicks-
burg. In stormy weather, over terrible roads, through low
wet land, marching night and day, fording rivers and build-
ins bridges, closer and closer the great Army drew its lines
around the doomed city. Fighting every day, camping in
wet, fever-haunted swamps, often unable to obtain food,
the troops never uttered a word of complaint. Sherman,
Logan, McPherson and Blair, brave generals, commanding
divisions of that brave army, on and on they came, until,
at the end of eighteen days, during which they had marched
two hundred miles, fought five battles, taken six thousand
five hundred prisoners, killed and wounded as many more,
captured twenty-seven cannon and sixt}*-one pieces of
artillery, the great city with its garrison was surrounded,
all supplies shut out, and the siege begun.
For forty-six days there was one continual roar of can-
non from Porter's gunboats upon the river and Grant's
batteries upon the land. Mines were dug under the forts,
under one of the most important points over two thousand
pounds of powder were placed, and on June 25th this
mine was exploded. The result was terrible ! Dust, dirt,
smoke, cannon, stockades, timbers, logs, even human
bodies rose hundreds of feet into the air, as if tin own from
a volcano ; and then everv gun on land and river threw
GENERAL GRANT. 179
shells and cannon balls into the shattered city. The
inhabitants lived in cellars and caves dug in the banks of
the stream to escape the terrible storm of shot and shell
that destroyed their dwellings.
Day after day the Union soldiers pressed closer, although
rank after rank was swept away by the Confederate guns ;
and on the morning of July 3rd, the forty-sixth day of the
siege, General Pemberton, the Confederate Commander,
asked that a commission be appointed to arrange terms of
capitulation, as he wished to stop any further effusion of
blood. General Grant replied : "The 'effusion of blood'
you propose stopping can be ended at any time by an
unconditional surrender of the city and garrison. I do not
favor appointing a commission to arrange terms, because I
have no other terms than these."
General Pemberton immediately accepted the inevitable,
and on the morning of July 4th, 1863, Vicksburg with
over thirty thousand soldiers and all its munitions of
war, surrendered to the Federal army, and once more
"Unconditional Surrender" Grant had won a brilliant
Hitherto General Grant had ranked as Major-General of
the Volunteer Army ; he was now made Major-General of
the Regular Army of the United States and placed in com-
mand of the Military Division of the Mississippi, comprising
three departments, the Ohio, the Cumberland and the
180 GENERAL GRANT.
Tennessee, and containing over two hundred thousand
Down in eastern Tennessee, one of the Confederate
strongholds, General Thomas with the half-starved army
of the Cumberland was tenaciously holding Chattanooga,
though surrounded by the Southern armies. On October
19th General Grant telegraphed to him : " Hold Chatta-
nooga at all hazards ; I will be there as soon as possible.''
Back over the wires flashed this brave answer from noble
old General Thomas : "I will hold the town till we starve."
And all this time his army was on half rations, three
thousand men sick in the hospitals, ten thousand mules and
horses dead of starvation, and not ammunition enough in
the whole camp to fight another battle.
On the night of October 23rd, cold, tired and hungry,
unable to walk without a crutch, for his hip had been badly
injured in a run-away, General Grant rode up to General
Thomas's tent. The next morning the two rode out
and looked over the ground ; General Grant laid his plans
and telegraphed his orders here, there, everywhere,
and in six days, food, clothing, blankets and shoes were
supplied to the hungry soldiers. He found them ragged,
hungry, despondent, but he soon had them well-fed and
clothed while his presence made them courageous and
hopeful ; now he was prepared to drive the Confederates
from Tennessee and rescue General Burnside, who was
GENERAL GRANT. 181
shut up in Knoxville with another half-starved division of
the Federal army.
General Badeau, in his Military History of General
Grant, says: "The continent shook with the tramp of
approaching armies. Through the great mountain ranges,
and by the side of the rushing streams ; along the desolated
corn-fields and amid the startled recesses of the primeval
forests, the bustle and the stir of war were rife. Two hun-
dred thousand soldiers were concentrating from the East and
from the West for this one battlefield, and over all these
preparations, all these armies, the spirit of one man was
dominant." At last all was in readiness, and the fighting
began. Oh, those days of battle at Lookout Mountain and
Missionary Ridge ! Who that lived through the long,
dark years of Civil War can forget the wild exultant thrill
caused by the news of that "battle above the clouds."
Who, today, can read of it in history without sharing that
One night, the peaceful camp fires flashing from ridge to
ridge ; the next, the booming of cannon answering to can-
non, from Orchard Knob to Missionary Ridge, from Mis-
sionary Ridge to Lookout Mountain, and everywhere the
dull red light of battle, the tramp of countless feet ! Then,
when the light of the second morning shone, far above the
blood-stained battle grounds, above the smoke and vapor of
conflict, from the summit of Lookout Mountain the Stars
182 GENERAL GRANT.
and Stripes floated in the early sunshine, and General
Grant had won another victory. Dividing his army, he
sent one part of it to follow the retreating Confederates and
drive them into Georgia, while other detachments were
sent to release General Burnside who was shut up in the
entrenchments at Knoxville by General Longstreet. But
Longstreet did not wait for the arrival of the Union
soldiers. Hearing of the victory at Chattanooga, and
seeing no way of escape, should the Union forces once
surround him, he withdrew with his whole army eastward
into Virginia, and the war in Tennessee was ended.
On the 26th of February, 1864, Congress passed a bill
reviving the grade of Lieutenant- General, and on March
2nd President Lincoln appointed General Grant to this
position. But two men had ever held this title. In 1798
President Adams appointed George Washington " Lieuten-
ant of the Armies of the United States," and in 1855
General Winfield Scot had the same honor conferred upon
General Grant wrote to General Sherman telling him of
this appointment and in his letter he said : " While I am
being eminently successful in this war, in at least gaining
the confidence of the public, no one feels more than I how
much of this success is due to the energy and skill of those
whom it has been my good fortune to have occupying
subordinate positions under me. There are many officers
GENERAL GRANT. ]83
to whom these remarks are applicable, but I want to
express my thanks to you and McPherson, as the men to
whom above all others, I feel indebted for whatever I have
had of success."
In his reply to this letter, General Sherman said : " You
are now Washington's legitimate successor, and occupy a
position of almost dangerous elevation ; but if you can con-
tinue as heretofore to be yourself, — simple, honest and
unpretending, you will enjoy through life the respect and
love of friends, and the homage of millions of human beings,
who will award you a large share in securing to them and
their descendants a government of law and stability."
These letters show the simple, honest character of the man
who now stood at the head of the American army. He
felt no pride, except that which every true man feels in
work well done and duty faithfully performed. He
made no claim to greater merit than those who were
associated with him, and cared nothing for popularity and
In January, after the victory at Chattanooga, he was
called to St. Louis by the serious illness of his eldest son.
No one knew of his arrival until, after several hours, some
one saw on the hotel register the name, " U. S. Grant,
Chattanooga." The news spread rapidly ; he was invited
to a banquet, bands serenaded him, the hotel was sur-
rounded by people anxious to catch sight of the hero of
184 GENERAL GRANT.
the Western Army. When he appeared upon the balcony
he was received with cheer after cheer. Removing his hat
he said : " Gentlemen, I thank you for this honor. I cannot
make a speech. It is something I never have done, and
never intend to do, and I beg you to excuse me." He was
indeed a man of deeds, not of words.
GRANT AS LIEUTENANT-GENERAL.
Now great events crowded swiftly one upon another.
General Sherman, with his division, turned southward,
burned Atlanta, and started on his famous "March to the
Sea," destroying everything along his path. Brave Ad-
miral Farragut held the city of Mobile, and wherever the
Stars and Stripes led, victory followed. General Grant,
leaving Sherman, McPherson and Thomas to conduct the
war in the South and West, took command of the Army
of the Potomac and prepared to carry war into Vir-
ginia. On the 3rd of May, 1864, the great army started,
and the battle of Spottsylvania, with its awful record of
death, soon followed. Then came the seven days' battle of
the Wilderness, every foot of ground gained by fierce fight-
ing- gained and held — there was no retreating — for the
brave commander had said : f ' I propose to tight it out on
this line if it takes all summer."
Never discouraged, he followed up each fierce, desperate
battle by another even fiercer and more desperate, until on
GENERAL GRANT. l.So
the night of May 20th, by a movement unequaled in the
history of warfare, the great army turned to the left and
took up its final march, "On to Richmond." Of the battles
that followed, Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, the Rapidan,
Weldon Railroad, and many others, history will tell you.
The summer was one continual battle and thousands upon
thousands of brave men laid down their lives upon those
awful battle-fields ; but slowly and surely the great army
drew its strong lines about Petersburg, the strongest
defense of the Confederate capital, Richmond. Every day
the siege continued, until the army went into winter
quarters and Grant made preparations for the spring-
campaign, which, it was hoped, would speedily terminate
On December 25th, 18 64, General Sherman sent his
famous telegram to President Lincoln, presenting to him as
a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with its guns,
ammunition and twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.
When he had destroyed everything that could aid the
South, Sherman turned northward toward Virginia sweep-
ing everything before him. At Petersburg the fighting
still went on. Again and again General Grant threw
his powerful army against the Southern entrenchments,
every day advancing a little farther until, on the 4th of
April, 1865, Petersburg and Richmond were evacuated and
the Union Army took possession. The strife lasted but a
186 GENERAL GRANT.
few days longer. On April 9th, 1865, the two great com-
manders met in the parlor of William McLean's house, at
Appomatox Court House, and General Lee surrendered the
Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant.
On the 26th of April General Johnston's army in North
Carolina surrendered to General Sherman, and on May 26th
the Southern Army west of the Mississippi, under General
Kirby Smith, surrendered to Major-General Canby. Thus
the great Civil War was ended.
On the 2nd of June, General Grant took leave of the
great armies which hud been guided by his genius to such
splendid victories. In as few words as possible he bade
them farewell, and spoke in glowing words of their patriot-
ism, bravery and endurance, adding tender words of
remembrance for the many brave ones left sleeping in the
General Grant was now the idol of his country.
Gifts and honors without number were showered upon
him ; but all this adulation did not change him from
the quiet, unpretentious man who had entered the Union
Army as a Colonel of Volunteers. He now hoped for a
few years' rest but his country still needed his services.
In July of 1866, Congress created the grade of " General
of the Army of the United States," and General Grant was
appointed to that position.
The duties of Commander-in-Chief, in reorganizing the
GENERAL GRANT. L87
army and reducing it to the number required for the
Regular Service, kept him busily employed during the next
GRANT AS PRESIDENT.
On May 21st, 1868, the Republican Convention met
at Chicago and nominated General Ulysses S. Grant for
President of the United States, and in the following
November he was elected to that office by a large majority.
In 1872, he was re-elected by a still larger majority, and
thus for eight years he served his country as President,
standing at the head of a great nation, and striving to do
what was best for his country and its people. The eight
years of his administration was a period of great anxiety
and disturbance for the Government, and many important
The Central Pacific Railroad was completed, the South-
ern States were re-admitted to the Union ; the Fifteenth
Amendment, giving the right to vote to the colored people
of the South, was adopted ; the great Chicago fire left one
hundred thousand people homeless, and consumed two
hundred million dollars worth of property ; the war with
the Sioux Indians broke out in which General Custer and
his brave band of soldiers were killed ; these are a few of
the notable events of General Grant's administration.
Through all the trials and anxieties of his position, with its
GENERAL GRANT. 189
honors and its burdens, its praises, and its criticisms he
remained the same quiet, unpretending- man, faithfully dis-
charging the duties of his office, just as he had done when
a cadet at West Point and while serving through the
War. On March 4th, 1877, General Grant vacated the
White House and Eutherford B. Hayes succeeded him as
President. He had won the love and admiration of his
countrymen by his loyalty, patriotism and ability as a
Commander ; he retained it by exhibiting the same noble
qualities while President.
GENERAL GRANT'S TRAVELS.
General Grant's great lieutenants in the war, Sherman,
Sheridan and Farragut, had all visited Europe and enjoyed
a well earned vacation after the hardships of war. But to
General Grant such rest was denied. His country required
his services, and he cheerfully gave up the vacation and
rest that he had looked forward to, put aside all his private
plans, resigned his position as Commander-in-Chief of the
Army, and for eight years stood at the head of the nation,
tilling the office of President to the best of his ability.
Now his official duties were completed : he was once more
Ulysses S. Grant, a private citizen of the United States,
and could take the rest he had longed for. On the
17th of May, 1877, accompanied by his wife and his son
Jesse, and with the hearty good wishes of his countrymen,
190 GENERAL GRANT.
he sailed from Philadelphia for Europe and over two years
passed before he returned to his native land.
This journey was a memorable one. Through all the
countries of Europe and the principal countries of Asia,
General Grant and his party travelled. Kings and queens,
emperors and princes united with the common people of
all nations to do honor to this plain, unpretending citizen
of the United States, this simple dealer in leather, but a
man whose honesty, loyalty, energy and faithfulness, had
made him equal, or far superior to those whose only
claim to greatness was the rank and title descended to
them from some remote ancestor. Their position was
inherited ; his came to him as the reward of duty well
General Grant received many rare, curious and beautiful
gifts from the rulers and people of the countries which he
visited ; and many strange entertainments and wonderful
banquets were prepared in his honor. It is said that at the
dinner given by the Emperor of Japan in honor of General
and Mrs. Grant, the bill of fare was composed of over fifty
courses, the first seven of which were soups, one of them
made of skylarks, buckwheat and eggplant. General
Grant remained in Japan over two months, then on the 3rd
of September, 1879, he took passage oa the steamer Tokio,
bound from Yokohama to San Francisco. On September
20th the ship sailed through the Golden Gate into the har-
GENERAL GRANT. 191
bor of San Francisco and General Grant again stood upon
his native soil.
His country gave him a royal welcome. In every city
through which he passed on his way to Galena — his old
home — banners waved, bands played, bells rang and the
people welcomed home with hearty cheers, the hero of the
Nation. Such proof of the love and gratitude of his
countrymen must have been very precious to the hearts of
the General and his family. When they reached Galena
many old friends met them and escorted them to their
home, and the long journey was ended. No man had ever
travelled so far and been received with such honor; for
wherever he went his fame had preceded him, and that is
something no man had ever experienced before, and per-
haps no one will ever do so again. Few men will ever be
as widely known and as thoroughly respected as General
Ulysses S. Grant, the quiet, modest man, who had said
half in jest and half in earnest, that he had no greater
ambition when the war closed than to return to Galena, and
be the alderman from his ward.
He had now returned to his own fireside, content to spend
the rest of his days in the enjoyment of home and friends.
But this could not be. Fame is not all happiness, and the
man who is famous has many enemies and many false
friends who seek his friendship for personal gain. General
Grant found many such. Political and financial schemers
192 GENERAL GRANT.
sought to have his name connected with their plans.
The Republican party, fearing defeat, urged him to
accept the Presidential nomination and, against his better
judgment, he at last consented to do so ; but at the
Convention General Garfield received the nomination, and
with quiet dignity, General Grant accepted the decision
and generously did all in his power to help Garfield's
Many of his old friends had left Galena and, in 1883,
General Grant and his family removed to New York, where
his sons entered the banking business. General Grant
became a special partner of the firm, and for a time all
went well. But in May, 1884, through the dishonesty of the
manager, the bank closed, and General Grant w T as finan-
cially ruined. No suspicion of dishonesty was attached to
General Grant or his sons ; they were ruined by the dis-
honorable man they had trusted and they immediately gave
up all their property to meet the indebtedness of the
GENERAL GRANT'S ILLNESS AND DEATH.
Throughout all General Grant's military life, through all
the cares and anxieties incident to the office of President,
through his two years of travel in foreign lands and differ-
ent climates, he had scarcely known a day's illness ; but
upon Christmas Eve, 1883, w T hile returning from the
GENERAL GRANT. 193
house of u friend, lie slipped upon the icy pavement and
fell heavily. His hip was seriously injured and from this
injury he never fully recovered. For a time he seemed to
grow stronger, but after the failure of the bank in 1884,
his health began to fail and ho never was a well man
During the summer of 1884, the publishers of the
Century requested General Grant to write several articles
for their magazine, describing the battles he had won.
For these articles he was well paid and the brave old
soldier took heart once more. Here was a way to earn his
own living. He need not feel dependent upon the kind-
ness of friends, nor the gratitude of the nation. In October
of 1884, it became known that General Grant was suffering
from a throat trouble, and soon the whole country knew
that the physicians had little hope of his recovery. But
the soldierly spirit was strong within him, and still he
fought bravely for life. He had commenced writing his
memoirs and, although confined to his home during the
winter of 1885, he wrote several hours daily upon this
story of his life, which he hoped would bring him money
enough to place his family above want after he was
Every day his grandchildren visited him, three pretty,
merry, loving little ones, who came like sunshine into the
sick man's room and brightened his saddest hours. His
194 GENERAL GRANT.
only daughter, Mrs. Sartoris, came from her home in Eng-
land and remained with him while he lived. Old friends
gathered about him. The brave old commander who, on
the battlefield and in the President's chair, had led
his country through conflict and peril to victory, honor
and safety, was once more first in the hearts of ail
his countrymen. A bill placing him upon the retired
list of the army, after several defeats, was at last
passed on the 4th of March, 1885. But all these kind
deeds, these honors, these acts of restitution, came too
General Grant had now but one intense desire. He
wished to live long enough to finish his "Personal Memoirs,"
not for his own fame, but to provide a competence for his
family. One who knows him well said: '' Since he had
known that his personal honor was as clean, his military
fame as brilliant in the eyes of men as they had ever been,
he determined that his reputation for sense and shrewdness
should also be regained. He would not die without regain-
ing a fortune equal to that which had been taken from him
by fraud. No man should say that, after all, General Grant
had left his children penniless."
So the brave fight, the race with the Conqueror, Death,
went on. At last the book was finished, his work w T as done,
and upon the 23rd of July, 1885, the brave old General
met Death, who now dictated to him those Terms of
GENERAL GRANT. 1«J5
Capitulation, that he had so often dictated to others:
" Unconditional Surrender."
With the whole world watching beside him, with the
hearts of his countrymen throbbing with grief for his
suffering and their loss, with his loved wife and precious
children around him, he surrendered his life as calmly and
quietly as he had done all great deeds, and received his
last promotion, passing into the rank and company of the
great Heroes and Statesmen gone before him.
Upon Saturday, August 8th, bells were tolled and
memorial services held all over the United States during
the hour of his funeral. More than fifty thousand people
marched in that funeral procession, one of the greatest
processions the world ever saw. The coffin was carried to
the temporary vault in Riverside Park, New York, over-
looking the beautiful Hudson river, and here, surrounded
by thousands of old comrades and by those he had loved
best and dearest, the final farewell words were spoken. His
little grand-daughter Julia laid a wreath of flowers upon
the casket, the bugle sounded "Taps,"* and the doors of
the vault were closed and locked upon all that remained to
earth of one of America's greatest Heroes.
Immediately after the funeral of General Grant a monu-
ment committee was organized and in 1897, as a result of
their labors, a magnificent mausoleum was completed not
* " Lights out."
196 GENERAL GRANT.
far from the temporary vault. This was dedicated on April
27th, 1897, the anniversary of his birth ; and to the vault in
the centre of the building his casket was removed. Here in
time will also rest the body of Mrs. Grant, for it was his
wish that, wherever his body was placed, she might rest
beside him. Rising two hundred and eighty feet above the
Hudson river, it is a noble monument to a noble man.
The builders of the monument have inscribed in the most
conspicuous place upon its front this most characteristic of
his savings : ff Let us have Peace."
No. L /3 V Sect._ ___ SheH _Z
Lincoln National Life Foundation
Collateral Lincoln Library
1LH.003 3<t- MVtl